Dedicatory Paintings in Greek Religion: An Initial Assessment

In: Acta Archaeologica
Gil H. Renberg Lecturer, Department of English, Howard University Visiting Scholar, Department of Classical Studies, University of Michigan USA

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This contribution presents the first survey of the full range of sources for the dedication of paintings to the gods of the Greek-speaking world, including Egypt. This phenomenon has been largely overlooked due to the rarity of such dedications, in contrast to the countless dedicatory objects fashioned from stone and other durable materials, which have survived in relative abundance. Although some types of dedicatory painting, particularly the well-known Archaic and Classical terracotta pinakes from Attika and the painted wooden panels from Pitsa, have been studied by numerous scholars, other examples have been neglected, along with many written sources. Seeking to fill this gap in the scholarship, this article collects the full range of sources demonstrating the importance of paintings as a type of dedication – not only the paintings that still survive on terracotta, stone, and stucco, but also a varied and intriguing body of literary and epigraphical testimonia. The result is a study that for the first time provides scholars of Greek religion and Greek art a detailed overview of this aspect of Greek cult, and delves into various issues – methodological and otherwise – crucial to understanding its nature.

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