These Greeks that is
Richard Armitage isn’t the only thing that can make me go, “Squee!!” The presence of 500 plus Greek artifacts only 150 miles away works too! Bestie and I have set a date (dangerously close to the “close of special exhibit” crowd issue, but so be it) to go, so naturally, I set to trawling around the interwebs to get a preview of the exhibit and came across a photo array from the Chicago Tribune. One piece in particular caught my eye because I’d seen him before on a visit to the old museum at Sparta years ago.
The photo caption reads, “Statue of Hoplite, known as Leonidas (Acropolis of Sparta 480-470 BCE) at the Field Museum exhibit The Greeks: Agamemnon to Alexander the Great.”
It’s quite doubtful that this is meant to be understood as any sort of portrait of Leonidas, but it could well have been erected on the Spartan acropolis as a dedicatory monument to him. Leonidas is arguably the most well known of the the Spartan warrior kings due to the Thermopylae episode…you know the one…where he, leading a detachment of 300 Spartan hoplites held the entire invading Persian army of Xerxes at bay long enough for the rest of the Greek coalition forces to retreat and regroup. Leonidas and his men enjoyed the pinnacle of a Spartan military career – that is, every last one of them ultimately died in battle at the hands of Xerxes, but their actions enabled the rest of the Greek army to escape to fight another day (and to go on to defeat Xerxes against almost astronomical odds!).
Compared to what Athenian sculptors of the same period were producing, this particular piece isn’t particularly remarkable, but I remember it being a standout item in the comparatively tiny Sparta Archaeological Museum. Worthy of a sculpture geeky “squee” for sure!
Now if only I could figure out a way to work my other main source of “squee” in here somehow…
Yep – that’s the stuff!