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Statues or Pictures?

Post  DavidMcCann on Tue Dec 09, 2014 3:51 pm

I've just got my copy of "Hellenic polytheism: household worship", produced by the Greek group Labrys. At one point they say
We would like to remind the reader that even though two-dimensional pictures are common as decorative items in the Hellenic religion, only three-dimensional representations such as statues, carvings, and objects with depth should be used for devotional purposes.
Does any one have any feelings about this? I don't know of any Greek evidence, but Pompeii and Herculaneum show the use of pictures in shrines, at least of Vesta and the Lares. Personally, I can't think of any theological objection to the use of a picture rather than a statue.


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Re: Statues or Pictures?

Post  spokane89 on Tue Dec 09, 2014 10:24 pm

Sounds like elitist BS, but that is a personal opinion, not an cited answer.
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Re: Statues or Pictures?

Post  Erodius on Tue Dec 09, 2014 11:09 pm

Does any one have any feelings about this? I don't know of any Greek evidence, but Pompeii and Herculaneum show the use of pictures in shrines, at least of Vesta and the Lares. Personally, I can't think of any theological objection to the use of a picture rather than a statue.

I imagine they are speaking of the concept of a cult image acquiring ensoulment either ceremonially, or through continued worship offered to it, and a three-dimensional object's being more readily suited to this. 

However, as DavidMcCann said, painted images were most certainly used in worship, including icons painted in encaustic on wood panels, and, if framed on their own and ornamented suitably, could be carried in processions and treated as any other three-dimensional ἄγαλμα.

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Re: Statues or Pictures?

Post  Hestiafire129 on Thu Jun 11, 2015 7:00 am

DavidMcCann wrote:I've just got my copy of "Hellenic polytheism: household worship", produced by the Greek group Labrys. At one point they say
We would like to remind the reader that even though two-dimensional pictures are common as decorative items in the Hellenic religion, only three-dimensional representations such as statues, carvings, and objects with depth should be used for devotional purposes.
Does any one have any feelings about this? I don't know of any Greek evidence, but Pompeii and Herculaneum show the use of pictures in shrines, at least of Vesta and the Lares. Personally, I can't think of any theological objection to the use of a picture rather than a statue.


I also have that book and I really don't like it that they said this. I have both pictures and statues. And nothing bad has happened. Do what you have the money to do and don't worry about authors that live thousands of miles away.

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Re: Statues or Pictures?

Post  DavidMcCann on Thu Jun 11, 2015 1:59 pm

I actually have both: statues for Hestia, Hekate, Asklepios, and Tyche; a framed picture for the god(s) whose festivals fall in the current month.

Another thing I read in that book was that the colour associated with Asklepios was red, so I gave him a crimson khiton. I kept getting this feeling that there was something wrong, and then I read that descriptions of visions obtained in incubation all say be appeared in white. I promptly did a divination to ask if he really minded and wanted re-painting, and got a yes. Three coats did the trick and I have no more niggling feelings!

On the whole, though, I'd say it's a pretty good book.

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Re: Statues or Pictures?

Post  Erodius on Sun Jun 14, 2015 1:36 pm

don't worry about authors that live thousands of miles away.

Hm – I would use caution with such a mentality in learning.


Another thing I read in that book was that the colour associated with Asklepios was red, so I gave him a crimson khiton.

The color red is Classically associated with divinity in general – red and yellow in particular. Asclepius' association with Apollo would lead to being associated with the reds and golds of Apollinian/Solar cult. However, white has an equally strong Classical association with Apollo and Asclepius.

It is not really a one-to-one only color correspondence Wink

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"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Statues or Pictures?

Post  Hestiafire129 on Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:34 pm

I don't normally feel that way, but I just felt that the Hellenists over there are caught up in statues. Yes, they most likely have a ton of money to afford them but some of us are poor Hellenists that don't have that kind of money. I'm slowly replacing my pictures with statues, but only because I can get them at a good price.

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Re: Statues or Pictures?

Post  Callisto on Fri Jun 19, 2015 2:25 pm

Hestiafire129 wrote:I don't normally feel that way, but I just felt that the Hellenists over there are caught up in statues. Yes, they most likely have a ton of money to afford them but some of us are poor Hellenists that don't have that kind of money. I'm slowly replacing my pictures with statues, but only because I can get them at a good price.
Money has nothing to do with it, if anything most average Greeks are having financial issues not far different than average Americans (are you aware of Greece's economic crisis?).?

The Labrys quote, when taken in context, pertains to what has already been mentioned in regards to ensoulment and per their description of setting up a traditional altar along the lines of a wall recess or niche (akin to the Roman lararium). However, just as such a space is not feasible for many (if not most), a shelf or table can suffice and two-dimensional images can be used.

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