The concept of beauty, strength, and power has been an ever-changing ideology throughout time and the world. Each society has an understanding of what it means to be beautiful, strong, and powerful. Ancient Greece is no exception to this. With the fear of losing their power and strength to invaders and the Gods setting standards of how to be beautiful, Ancient Greeks were constantly striving to maintain their status. Jewelry, vases, food, one’s appearance and physique, and main buildings were all used to represent these ideologies during this time. However, only the wealthiest people could even try to meet the unattainable standards society has put in place due to the high costs of the items. During annual festivals and religious ceremonies the desire to be the most beautiful, strong, and powerful was fully put on display all throughout Ancient Greece.
Figure 1. The main influence on beauty, especially for women, was Aphrodite (pictured above). Aphrodite, the true embodiment of beauty, is the goddess of love and beauty (1). All over Ancient Greece women would do whatever it took to look like Aphrodite. For example, they would wear white face powder, elaborate jewels, and similar hairstyles (2).
Figure 2. For men, the demigod Heracles (pictured above slaying a serpent) was the main influence for shaping their physical appearance. Heracles is said to have been able to defeat any monster or enemy from having great physical and psychological strength that men greatly desired (3). Men, who had the leisure time, would work out for hours at a time to try to achieve this physical perfection (2).
Figure 3. On the day of the festival, women would start to get ready. As pictured above, the women put on various gold and silver jewelry to represent their beauty and status within the society. The more the jewels and elaborate pieces women put on, the higher they were in society (4). Women only had a few times a year where they could go out, so when they did, they desired to look the best and appear to be the most prosperous (2).
Figure 4. On the other hand, men competed in major competitions to try to maintain or even gain power within the society. As pictured above, men needed perfectly proportioned and shaped bodies to show their power and strength. Leading up to the festivals, men would workout out to stay in top condition for competitions and games they would take part in. The winners of these competitions would be treated with high honor many people greatly desire to have (5).
Figure 5. On their way to the Acropolis both men and women walked around together throughout the shops showing off their wealth by buying expensive vases and pottery. The intricate items being bought have figures and designs that show the emphasis on beauty, power, and strength. Many have figures of gods and goddesses that they worship (as shown above). The more complex a vase looks, the more expensive it is. These ornaments are a way to show the status a person has.
Figure 6. As people started walking up the hill to the Acropolis, many would stop by the Ancient Agora (pictured above from the top of the Acropolis). Many of the wealthy bought various meats at the market for sacrifices and the annual feast. Meats during this time were very expensive and reserved for the wealthy. The rich and powerful would have the grandest foods compared to the poor. Food, during this time, is another symbol of one’s status (6).
Figure 7. Finally, many people arrived at Acropolis (pictured above from the northeast side) to celebrate or worship. This is the ultimate symbol of power, wealth, and beauty in Ancient Greece. The Acropolis has a view of every side of the valley and coast. People are able to see enemies coming and protect the citizens. It is also a sacred place where people feast and worships the gods (7).
- “Aphrodite.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 01 June. 2018. Web. 02 June 2018.
- “Would you be beautiful in the ancient world?.” BBC News. BBC, 10 Jan. 2015. Web. 02 June 2018.
- “Heracles.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 25 May. 2018. Web. 02 June 2018.
- Cartwright, Mark. “Women in Ancient Greece.” Ancient History Encyclopedia. Ancient History Encyclopedia, 27 July. 2016. Web. 02 June 2018.
- “Acropolis.” The British Museum. The British Museum, N.d. Web. 02 June 2018.
- “Ancient Greek cuisine.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 23 May. 2018. Web. 02 June 2018.
- “Acropolis of Athens.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 10 May. 2018. Web. 02 June 2018.