This course name and description ONLY applies to academic year 2021-2022
ARHI 13182-2: Critical Moments in Classical Culture
Instructor: Robin Rhodes
This seminar will examine critical moments in the history of classical Greek culture,
moments in which conscious choice—as opposed to the simple perpetuation of tradition—can
be isolated in art or architecture and employed as a key to uncovering meaning. The focus will
always be the analysis of the primary sources, the art and architecture itself. In addition to the
isolation of these moments of conscious choice, the methodology employed for discovering
meaning in classical Greek art and architecture will begin with the articulation of each object as
the solution to a design problem, a solution that can begin to be deduced from the careful
description of the object and its visual hierarchy, followed by an analytical reconstruction of the
viewer’s visual experience of the object. These critical moments will begin with the cultural
melding of the Minoan and Mycenaean cultures in the mid-second millennium BCE and will end
with the mid-fifth century establishment of Athens as the political and cultural center of the
Greek world following the Persian Wars. Of particular interest to us will be a continuing
analysis of the nature of “monumentality” in the art and architecture of Greece, of its purpose
(the design problem) and how that purpose is accomplished.
1 To begin to master the analysis of the primary sources of ancient art and architecture by
acquiring a methodology of visual analysis that facilitates the articulation of design
problems faced by ancient artists and architects and the understanding of ancient
monuments as solutions to those design problems.
2 To become familiar with major monuments of ancient Greece within their
3 To understand the physical and conceptual characteristics of these monuments and their
relationship to each other.
4 To methodically construct a definition of “monumentality” in the ancient Greek world.
5 To develop writing as a critical tool for mastering visual analysis and consequent