Achilles: A hero and demigod in Greek mythology who was the son of the king of Myrmidons, Peleus, and the sea nymph Thetis. He was a key warrior in the Trojan War and was the main character in Homer’s Iliad. As a baby, his mother dipped him into the river Styx in an effort to make him invincible. However, the waters of the river did not reach the heel from which she held him. The heel, his only weakness, was the place where he would receive a fatal wound.
agones: Games or contests that developed out of a reverence for heroes, champions, and athletes. The most well-known agones in ancient times were the Olympic Games, on which the modern Olympics are based.
akropolis: The citadel in ancient Greek cities, located on an elevated area and consisting of a cluster of buildings that were culturally and ritually significant.
antiquity: Term used to refer to classical Greek, Roman, Etruscan, and many other civilizations. Between about 1400 and 1900, the literature, art, and architecture of antiquity were assumed to be of superior quality and worthy of special study.
aryballos (pl. aryballoi): A type of Greek pottery characterized by its small size and typically narrow neck. It was used to store plain and scented oils.
avant-garde: Originally, a French military term used to describe the foremost group in an advancing army. The term was adopted in 1910 by a writer for the Daily Telegraph in London to describe a group of artists who were working with new and experimental ideas and methods in visual art. The term is also used in reference to innovations in literature and music.
axial movement: Any movement that can be accomplished while remaining in one spot using only the available space, as opposed to locomotor movement. Axial movements, such as bending, twisting, and stretching, are organized around the axis of the body.
background: The part of a scene that lies behind the foreground and middle ground and appears most distant from the viewer.
ballet master (ballet mistress): The individual in a ballet company who is responsible for determining the rehearsal schedule and giving the daily company class. The ballet master (or mistress) is also responsible for rehearsing the ballets in the company repertoire and coaching the dancers in new roles.
bard: A professional poet who traveled to different regions to sing stories set to music. In antiquity, bards were men performing oral poetry who are credited with passing along some of the oldest stories and legends, such as The Iliad and The Odyssey.
black-figure: An original technique of painting in ancient Greek ceramics, this method was commonly used from the early 600s to about 500 b.c. Figures were painted in solid black gloss silhouette against a clay red or lighter-colored background. Details were added by incising lines into the black gloss silhouette before firing.
bronze: An alloy of copper and tin that sometimes may contain other elements. This medium is yellowish brown in color and is often used to create sculpture.
canons: Clerics in medieval times who were bound by a shared religious code and who sometimes lived together.
chant: Words set to music.
cheating out: A stage direction in a script to direct actors onstage to face out toward the audience.
classical: Describes a prime example of quality or “ideal” beauty. It also often refers to the culture, art, literature, or ideals of the ancient Greek or Roman world, especially that of Greece in the fourth and fifth centuries b.c.
color palette: 1) A set of colors that makes up an image or animation; 2) the group of colors available to be used to create an image.
commedia dell’arte: Italian comedy of the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries improvised from everyday situations and stock characters. The scenes that were performed were chosen from a set of standard situations such as love triangles and parent-child interactions. Plays were comic, usually coarse, and made extensive use of slapstick humor.
composition: The process of arranging artistic elements into specific relationships to create an art object.
contrast: The organization of opposing elements of visual art in order to create a dramatic effect. It is often used by artists to direct the viewer’s attention to a certain part of a picture.
corps: The ensemble in a ballet; the group of dancers who do not perform as soloists.
dactylic hexameter: The oldest known form of Greek poetry, in which groups of words are arranged in six metrical feet. Each foot consists of three syllables—the first is stressed, followed by two unstressed syllables. For example:
| UN-der the | SHADE of wide | BRAN-ches, we | FOL-lowed the | MOVE-ment of| BUT-ter-flies
demigod: In ancient Greek mythology, a figure who was half-god, because one parent was human and the other was a god.
downstage: The part of the stage that is closest to the audience.
dramatic structure: The organization of a narrative, as follows:
• exposition: The information provided at the beginning of a play that sets the scene and introduces the characters and the plot.
• rising action: The obstacles and discoveries that create the conflict and present themselves to the characters in the middle part of the plot.
• conflict: The main problem caused by persons or forces in a play that creates dramatic action.
• climax: The point in a drama when the conflict is addressed, resulting in positive or negative consequences. The climax is the moment of the highest dramatic tension or the turning point of the story.
• falling action: The moment that follows the climax, when other plots and minor conflicts are resolved.
• conclusion: The end of a drama. It might also include information about what might happen next.
elements of art: The building blocks of art; visual elements that artists use to design and create works of art. Formal elements include line, shape, color, and texture. (See “Understanding Formal Analysis” section on the Getty website at http://getty.edu/education/teachers/building_lessons/formal_analysis.html)
epic hero: The hero and main character of an epic poem.
epic poem: A long narrative poem that usually concerns the adventures of a superhuman hero or heroes. This form of narrative was used in ancient Greece to pass on oral stories.
Expressionism: A style of art inspired by an artist’s subjective feelings rather than objective or realistic depictions based on observation. Expressionism as a movement is mainly associated with early-twentieth-century German artists interested in exploring the spiritual and emotional aspects of human experience.
foreground: The part of a scene that is nearest to and in front of the viewer.
fresco: A method of mural painting where water-based pigments are painted onto wet plaster. As the plaster and pigments dry, the pigment and plaster fuse together, and the paint becomes a permanent part of the wall. Frescoes were popular forms of decoration in the homes of nobility.
gelatin silver print: A photograph made through a chemical process in which light creates a positive image on a negative on a surface coated with an emulsion of gelatin (an animal protein) containing light-sensitive silver salts.
god: In ancient Greek and Roman mythology, a figure who personified a part of the Greek and Roman world, either natural or cultural.
gold leaf: Gold that is flattened into very thin sheets (resembling foil) and applied to letters and decorations in manuscript illumination.
gradual: The principal choir book used during the Christian mass that includes all sung parts of the mass.
graphite: A dark gray form of carbon composed of crystals, widely used as a writing and drawing utensil.
Greek New Comedy: A kind of Greek drama, popular at least through the first century b.c., that usually consisted of a satirical view of contemporary Athenian society. Greek New Comedy inspired Roman comic playwrights.
grotesques: This style in art takes its name from the word grotto and refers to design motifs found in the underground excavations of the Roman emperor Nero’s Domus Aurea (Gold House). Grotesques usually consist of decorative and figural motifs from classical antiquity or comic figures that are combinations of human and animal forms.
Hellenistic: Derived from the word hellene, Greek for “the Greeks.” During the Hellenistic age (323–146 b.c.), Greek culture and power extended across the world known to the Greeks due to the conquests of Alexander the Great into areas as far away as India.
Homer: Greek epic poet who probably lived between the ninth and eighth centuries b.c. He is credited as the author of The Iliad, about the Trojan War, and The Odyssey, about the return of the hero Odysseus to his home in Ithaca, Greece.
Hughes, Langston: African-American poet, novelist, playwright, autobiographer, and writer of children’s books. Hughes was born in 1902 in Joplin, Missouri. His literary career took off with the release of The Weary Blues, a book of poems influenced by the rhythms of jazz and blues (a style of early twentieth-century music that grew out of African-American work songs, spirituals, and country string ballads). He was one of the leading figures of the Harlem Renaissance (a period of abundant artistic production centered in Harlem, New York City, in the 1920s).
The Iliad: An epic poem about fourteen days of the ten-year Trojan War legendarily sung by Homer. The title is a reference to the Greek name for the city of Troy, Illion. The poem is divided into twenty-four parts.
illuminated manuscript: A handwritten book, usually made from specially prepared animal skins, in which richly colored and sometimes gilded decorations, such as borders and illustrations, accompany the text. The term comes from the Latin words illuminare (to throw light upon, lighten, or brighten), manus (hand), and scriptus, from the verb scriber (to write).
illumination: The application of paint in luminous colors (especially gold and silver) to adorn a manuscript.
illuminator: A craftsperson or artist who specializes in the art of painting and adorning manuscripts with decorations and illustrations.
Impressionist: Referring to the style, theories, or proponents of Impressionism, a theory or practice in painting in which objects are depicted by applying dabs or strokes of primary, unmixed colors in order to evoke reflected light. Impressionism was developed by French painters in the late nineteenth century.
improvisation (in theater): Creating dialogue and action without a script, rehearsal, or prior planning. incense burner: A container fitted with a perforated lid, in which incense (a mixture of aromatic herbs) is burned. Some incense burners, like the Greek thymiateria, were used specifically for religious rituals.
jazz: A type of music that developed in New Orleans in the late nineteenth century and spread to Chicago and New York in the 1920s. It is heavily influenced by West African rhythms, European harmonies, and American gospel music. Jazz is characterized by improvisation (created without planning), steady rhythm, and syncopation. Brass and woodwind instruments and piano are commonly used.
kithara: A type of lyre that has seven strings of equal length held in a wooden frame with a flat base.
kitharistés: 1) A musician who played an instrument called a kithara; 2) a teacher of music, composition, singing, and lyre playing.
krater: A vessel used at a symposium for mixing wine and water.
kylix (pl. kylikes): A type of cup used for drinking wine at ancient Greek drinking parties called symposia. Kylikes consist of a bowl sitting on a foot. Two handles extend horizontally from either side of the bowl. Usually shallow, a kylix is decorated on the interior curving surface of the tondo.
leading lines: Actual or implied lines within an image that lead the viewer’s eye to another point in the image, or, occasionally, out of the image.
Leading Slave: A sly and resourceful stock character from Greek and Roman comedy. The character was typified by a scoop-shaped beard, snub nose, and furrowed brow.
locomotor movement: Any movement in which the body travels from one place to another, as opposed to axial movement. Walking, running, skipping, hopping, and galloping are examples of locomotor movements.
lyre: A stringed instrument similar to a harp but significantly smaller so that it could be easily transported by storytellers who used it to accompany their tales.
marble: A type of limestone that is crystallized by metamorphism (change in make-up and texture of a material caused by pressure, heat, and chemical reactions). Marble ranges from granular to compact in texture, is capable of taking a high polish, and is used especially in architecture and sculpture.
medium (pl. mediums or media): 1) A material or technique used by an artist to produce a work of art; 2) the adhesive that carries paint’s pigments.
melody: The arrangement of musical notes that usually vary in pitch and are organized in a recognizable pattern.
Middle Ages: The period (about a.d. 500–1500) between ancient and modern times.
middle ground: The part of a scene that is between the foreground and background.
mixed media (mixed technique): A term used to describe an artistic technique in which at least two different types of media are combined to produce an artwork.
motif: The main theme or idea present in a work of art or elaborated and developed through separate works of art. The term also refers to a repeated form or pattern in a work of art.
mural: A painting that is applied directly to a wall.
narrative: A literary or visual work of art that contains a story or account of events or experiences, whether true or fictitious.
Neoclassicism: The artistic style of the Enlightenment, in which artists focused on filial or national devotion, fidelity, and courage and sought to revive the ideal of classical Greece or Rome in architecture, sculpture, painting, and the decorative arts.
Odysseus: A legendary Greek king of the city-state of Ithaca and hero of Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey, which recounts his ten-year struggle to return home after ten years of fighting in the Trojan War. Known for being clever and cunning, Odysseus is credited with coming up with the idea of the Trojan Horse, in which Greek warriors hid in order to gain entrance into the walled city of Troy, ultimately leading to a Greek victory over the Trojans. Due to his resourcefulness, Odysseus is able to escape various disasters on his way to reclaim his throne. He is referred to as Ulysses in Roman mythology.
The Odyssey: One of two ancient Greek epic poems attributed to the poet Homer, the other being The Iliad. A sequel to The Iliad, The Odyssey describes the ten-year-long adventure of one of the war’s heroes, Odysseus, as he tries to return home to Ithaca, Greece. Composed approximately in the eighth century b.c., when stories were passed down orally, the original poem was intended to be sung by a bard.
oral tradition: A term used to describe stories that were not written down; instead, they were shared orally.
pantomime: 1) A branch of commedia dell’arte that was especially popular in England during the nineteenth century, consisting of an evening of various theatrical scenes (comedic, romantic, ballet, acrobatics, etc.); 2) beginning in the late nineteenth century, a term referring to wordless acting that relies solely on body language and facial expressions; and 3) a theatrical genre originating in ancient Rome in which a single actor silently plays all the parts in a show while accompanied by a chorus.
parchment: A high-quality writing support made from specially prepared skins of sheep or goats. A writing support made from calfskin is called vellum.
pastel: Dry drawing media made from powdered pigments combined with binders.
patron: A person or group that supports artists or writers, especially by giving money.
perspective: 1) In art, a technique of depicting objects to convey the appearance of distance or depth on a flat surface. It is part of a mathematical system for representing three-dimensional objects and space on a two-dimensional surface by means of intersecting lines that radiate from one point (one-point perspective), two points, (two-point perspective), or several points on a horizon line as perceived by an imaginary viewer; 2) point of view.
petit rat: Literal translation from French is “little rat”; it has been used as an affectionate term to describe the young students of the Ecole de Dance de l’Opéra National de Paris since the school was founded in 1713.
photogram: A type of photograph produced without a camera or lens. A photogram is created by placing one or more objects on top of a piece of paper or film that is coated with light-sensitive material and then exposing the paper or film to sunlight or another light source. When the paper or film is developed as a normal photograph would be, the areas that were exposed to light will darken, while the areas that were covered will remain white. Some of the first photograms were created by William Henry Fox Talbot in the 1830s. In the 1920s the artist Man Ray made extensive use of the process and called his photograms “Rayographs” as a play on his own name and the idea of rays of light.
pitch: The degree of highness or lowness of a single musical note. A note’s pitch determines where it is located on a musical scale.
plié: French for “to bend the knees”; a ballet step in which the dancer bends the legs smoothly and continuously at the knees. This can be a grand plié, a bend to the deepest position. For a demi-plié, the dancer bends the knees until just below the classical hips while maintaining turn-out at the joints, allowing the thighs and knees to be directly above the line of the toes.
principles of design: Refers to how the elements of art are organized in an artwork. Principles of design include variety, emphasis, rhythm, movement, proportion, and balance. (See “Understanding Formal Analysis” section on the Getty website at http://getty.edu/education/teachers/building_lessons/formal_analysis.html)
Punchinello: An eighteenth-century comic character in Italian theater. His humpback, beaklike nose, and stupidity made him the focus of much humor in the commedia dell’arte and other popular entertainments.
putto (pl. putti): A nude infant usually depicted with wings. These figures were a popular motif used in art of the Renaissance to provide additional decoration to a work.
Rayograph: See photogram.
red-figure: A style of ancient Greek vase painting used from about 530 through the 300s b.c. The technique revolutionized vase painting. First, a preliminary sketch was made onto the surface of the vase. Then, black gloss was used to outline the figures and fill in the background. Next, figures, ornaments, lines depicting draped fabric, and other details were carefully added. Reverse technique to black-figure painting.
Renaissance: The French word for rebirth; refers to a period of history that began in the fourteenth century, during which time there was a renewed interest in the study of classical antiquity.
rhapsode: A performer of epic poetry, such as The Iliad, in ancient Greece. Rhapsodes performed poetry from memory in the oral tradition and usually accompanied themselves with a lyre or other musical instrument. Rhapsodes performed stories about events in history and rarely wrote the material they performed.
rhythm (in music): The arrangement of sounds to a set time.
sarcophagus (pl. sarcophagi): Stone, metal, terracotta, or wooden container for the burial of human remains. Throughout the ancient world, sarcophagi were displayed in a variety of ways, most commonly in family tombs. Burial in a sarcophagus was a popular custom during the period from about a.d. 150 to 250. Sarcophagi were mass-produced in a few centers, one of which was Athens. Athenian sarcophagi were usually carved on all four sides, and reclining figures were often placed on the top. The word sarcophagus is Greek for “flesh-eater.”
scribe: The person who wrote the text for a book in the Middle Ages.
script: The written version of a dramatic performance, which includes actors’ lines, stage directions, and sound, lighting, and actors’ cues. A script outlines the characters in a scene, the time of day, what is happening in the scene, and where the scene is taking place. The lines of a script are arranged with a character’s name appearing first followed by the character’s lines of dialogue. Stage directions and sound, lighting, and actors’ cues are written in parentheses.
space: The area between and around objects. In two-dimensional works, the space around objects is often called negative space. Space can also refer to the feeling of illusion of depth.
staff (in music): In modern-day Western music, five horizontal lines that indicate the pitches of a musical composition. The medieval staff had four lines. Higher pitches are placed near the top of the staff, and lower pitches are placed toward the bottom of the staff.
stanza (in poetry): The grouping of lines arranged together in a distinct pattern that divides a poem into parts.
stock character: A character type that would be recognizable to an audience; usually an exaggerated character from everyday life.
street photography: A term used to describe photographs taken on the street in urban contexts with or without the permission of the subjects. It is usually applied to the images of certain photographers (Robert Frank, Garry Winogrand, Lee Friedlander, etc.) working with small-format cameras during the 1950s and 1960s.
symposium (pl. symposia): In ancient Greece, a social gathering or drinking party where male citizens gathered for dinner, drinking, and entertainment.
syncopation: Added variety to rhythms, where a weak beat is stressed and beats that would normally be accented are left unstressed.
tempera: A water-based, quick-drying painting medium used widely during the Middle Ages. It produces a luminous, semiopaque surface. Egg tempera (made primarily from egg yolk) and glue tempera (made from animal glue) are the most common types of tempera.
tempo: The pace and speed at which a musical composition is played.
tendu: French for “tense.” In ballet, tendu means “to stretch the feet.” This ballet step involves stretching the foot and leg in a particular direction; just the tip of the toe touches the floor.
terracotta: Italian for “baked earth.” This term is used to describe objects created out of reddish brown clay fired at a low temperature and left unglazed. Terracotta is used to make pottery, sculpture, architectural decorations, and tiles.
theater mask: A covering placed on the face or over the head of an actor during theatrical performances. In ancient Greek theatrical performances, masks covered the entire head, depicted exaggerated facial features of the characters, and included wigs, so the audience could easily recognize the characters.
thymiaterion (pl. thymiateria): The term used to refer to an incense burner in ancient Greece.
tondo: The circular area containing a picture on the inside of an ancient Greek plate or a kylix.
tone (in art): The distinct difference in brightness of a color.
tone (in speech): The qualities of someone’s voice (i.e., inflections, areas of emphasis) that indicate what the person means or how he or she feels.
Trojan War: The legendary ten-year war that was fought between the early Greeks and the people of Troy in the thirteenth and twelfth centuries b.c. It began when Paris, the son of the Trojan king, kidnapped Helen, the wife of the Spartan king. The war ended when the Greeks pretended to surrender by leaving behind a large wooden horse as a gift to the city of Troy. When the horse was wheeled into the fortified city of Troy at night, Greek warriors hiding inside the horse descended upon the city.
upstage: The part of the stage that is farthest from the audience.
wax: A malleable plastic-like substance used as a sculptural medium because it is easy to handle, can be mixed with pigment, and does not go through any significant chemical or physical change over time, except minor shrinking and becoming brittle. The term wax is used interchangeably with beeswax.
white-ground: A technique of painting in ancient Greek ceramics where the figures were painted in color against a white background