Love is not a foreign phenomenon in any culture all over the world

Artistic Themes from Ancient Cultures: Greece and Rome

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Artistic Themes from Ancient Cultures: Greece and Rome

Love is not a foreign phenomenon in any culture all over the world; love enabled the people from different cultures to live together in peace. The various cultures gad unique way of showing love, there was a way a father showed love to his children which was very different from how he showed love to the wife, but the bottom line was the person who love was being expressed acknowledged that it was a show of love.

The way people showed love to one another or some practices varied from one culture to another, what was considered as a sign of love might have meant something totally different in another community. The Greek and the Romans had their unique way of showing love and they expressed it artistically just as in the modern world where people can show love either through poems, songs or even drawings. In the Greek and roman ancient times people used the work of art to show love even though the work of art were different from the ones being used today.

Love in ancient Greek and Rome

The ancient art work from Greece and Rome is referred to as classical art. The term is also used to describe the work of art from the latter periods; this is the time that the artists relied on inspiration from things around them to do their work. The initial classical period in Greece started in Greece at around the middle of the 5th century, at around this time most sculptors could easily make sculptures but they were mostly interested in making sculptures of their gods. The love they had for their gods was so immense that the art work portraying their gods was very beautiful and decorated with beautiful marbles. The Romans on the other hand learned most of their art work from the Greeks and most of their art work is mostly borrowed from the Greeks. The Persian invasion, 479-490 BC inspired the Greek; poets came up with poems that portrayed the love they had for the new epoch (Adams, 2011).

In the early times especially during the period known as the Golden age Eros was vey common in Greece. Eros was the god of love to the Greek people but they still used the word to refer to their sexual desires. During the period the sexual desire or “love” as the Greek called it was not gender specific, even though it may seem outrageous the men were more into sexual relationship with young boys that to women. The practice was referred to as pederasty the period had advance effects on the type of art at the time. Poets came up with poems that praised homosexuality such as the poem by Solon known as “Boys and sports”. Homosexuality was also seen in paintings on the walls and even on vase paintings some were very explicit such the painting of a group of men stark naked and right beside them a couple trying to have sexual intercourse. During the period Eros for young boys was normal and artist and poets felt that it was necessary to do some work on it (Adams, 2011).

The type of art work will change later during the Hellenic period, during this period people especially the men started appreciating women and considered them as romantic human beings. The change in the attitude of the society did have an impact on art as well, poets started writing romantic poems to the women artists on the other hand started drawing portraits of beautiful women and giving to them as a sign of love that they had towards them. Even though pederasty and homosexuality was still being practiced it was becoming less and less common (Nisbet, 2006).

Difference in attitude

Ideally speaking the way the Greek expressed their love and also their attitudes is very much different from the modern world. During the golden error it was regarded as normal for a grown up man to have sexual relationship with a young boy, this was because boys who could not emit semen were considered as women. It was considered as honor for a man to pursue and finally manage to have a beautiful boy for a sexual partner. Another attitude during the Golden age period which later changes was that women were not considered as romantic partners. It was believed that a man was never to be romantically be involved with a woman as they were only there to bear children. Women were not allowed to go outside their homes and any man who was to find his woman outside the house would consider such an action as dishonor (Nisbet, 2006).


The cultural practices of a any community has great impact on the work of art from the community, even though the way a certain community displays love might be different or seem awkward to another person from a different community it still remains love. Some communities display love by singing to each other, others consider giving of expensive jewelries as love. The most notable thing however is that cultural practices will forever have a significant effect on the work of art.


Adams, L. (2011). Art across time (4th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Nisbet, G. (2006). Ancient Greece in film and popular culture. London: Bristol Phoenix.

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