The Art of Ancient Greece systematically and comprehensively addresses the major issues of art in the ancient Greek world and provides ample illustrations of these issues for a younger audience. Glubok is always careful to present the information on an introductory level, but her discussions are never pedantic; rather, the tone is welcoming and explorative so as to arouse curiosity for the material. In this way, she convincingly introduces the young reader to a foreign and ancient culture through its surviving art.
Glubok’s work includes many references to the heroes and fantastical creatures from ancient Greek mythology. The adventures of Herakles (whom the Romans called Hercules), Bellerophon, Achilles, and Odysseus all occupy prominent discussions. In this manner, the author introduces the Iliad and the Odyssey, two extremely important epics by the poet Homer. Glubok briefly identifies the nearly invincible Achilles as the central hero of the Trojan War and explains a red-figure vase painting of Odysseus outwitting the sirens, bird-women who lure sailors to their destruction. A terra cotta statuette from the National Museum in Athens of Bellerophon, the hero who rides the winged horse Pegasus and conquers the many-headed Chimera, and two statues of Herakles, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Glyptothek Museum, provide discussion on both the development of artistic techniques and the popularity of such heroic stories. The reader also encounters the Amazons, female warriors who lived outside the realm of men and who regularly appeared in ancient Greek art. Another central heroic myth, Theseus’ conquest of the Minotaur (a man-bull creature), bears illustration without commentary.
Glubok describes the pantheon of Greek divinities and their importance in both art and culture. The illustrations include representations in every art form of these gods and goddesses. She discusses both the major divinities, who live on Mount Olympus, and relatively minor figures. Of the major Olympians, Glubok briefly identifies Zeus, Poseidon, Aphrodite, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Hermes, and Dionysus. Gods and goddesses of lesser...
(The entire section is 892 words.)
Since its initial publication in 1963, The Art of Ancient Greece has been firmly established as an important and comprehensive introduction to the subject matter for young readers. Shirley Glubok’s book successfully makes difficult concepts accessible, provides a solid overview of the issues, and balances the concerns of both art and culture. It thereby provides a means for a young reader to approach ancient Greece within its cultural context. The book also explores the surviving influence of ancient Greek culture.
Glubok’s other works include a series of introductory art books for young readers. Other topics include the art of ancient Egypt, the lands of the Bible, ancient Rome, Africa, Inuits, and North and Central American Indians. Glubok’s books stem from her own training in archaeology and her experience as a teacher of children.
Although there is some necessary nudity in The Art of Ancient Greece, the minor amount should not discourage a younger audience. For an attentive reader, Glubok’s work suggests discussion on many subjects, including polytheistic religion, slavery, military service, and rituals of death and burial. These issues, as well as the sheer prominence and influence of ancient Greek art, introduce a beautiful and sometimes mysterious world that young readers would no doubt find rewarding to explore.