Sunday, June 24, 2012

Ovidian tales in Tampa

lekythos 460 BC
If you sometimes wish Ovid's tales could come to life, you might want to visit the Tampa Museum of Art's current exhibit of ancient Greek and Roman vessels and other items, on display under the title Utility and Aesthetics in Ancient Art.

The museum has mounted a captivating display of sculpture, pottery, jewelry, coins and tools -- a strigil, for example, used by athletes to scrape off dust and olive oil after an event.

As we were saying not long ago, the characters and stories that Ovid gathered in his poem were the figurative and decorative commonplaces of the ancient world. The lover of the Metamorphoses will find, in one not very large room, a wide range of mythological figures, from Heracles and Semele to Dionysus, Hermes and Pegasus; Athena appears on vessels of all kinds, designed to hold oil, water, or perfume. There's Apollo and Poseidon in stone and image, as well as Osiris, the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, Theseus and the Minotaur, sirens and a sphinx or two. There are necklaces and a ring with a gorgon bezel, satyrs pouring wine and a maenad holding her thyrsus.

Certain themes recur: On one shard, a fragment of the Judgment of Paris; nearby, a lovely small statuette of Aphrodite holds her prize apple. I'd have taken many photos, but photography is not allowed in the Museum.

The images here are from the museum's site. Here's what's thought to be a child's doll:

5th c. BC

While the exhibition room is not huge, it's remarkable how many fine pieces it comfortably holds, and the curators have complemented nearly every piece with helpful notes. If you go, you might try a Friday, when the museum is free from 4 - 8 pm. And there's time: the exhibit remains until July 2013.

No comments:

Post a Comment