Exhibits of the month

View all past exhibits of the month

2022Moments of leisure

The human need for play, music, dance and socializing is lost in the mists of time, as it helped man to have a break from adversity and move forward. People all over the world spelled out misfortunes or simply the toils of everyday life with festivals, processions and sacrifices to the gods. For Plato (Laws, 635D), celebrations were the gift of the gods to people as a reward for their arduous life while the thirst for play is inherent in human nature.

In ancient Greece, small and greater joys were always accompanied by songs, their ritual encasing, such as the komos at the end of the banquet or the hymen at the wedding, while popular festivals (panygiris) shared the same features with the ones nowadays: conversations, games, but also spectacles, music and dance. For those small breaks Pericles makes special mention in 430 BC, in the famous Epitaph (Thucydides II, 38): “And we have not forgotten to provide for our weary spirits many relaxations from toil; we have regular games and sacrifices throughout the year; our homes are beautiful and elegant; and the delight which we daily feel in all these things helps to banish sorrow. (transl. Richard Hooker).

With our thoughts to the difficult period we are all facing, the “Exhibit of the Month”, the web event of the National Archaeological Museum, in 2022 is dedicated to the “many relaxations”, the small joys that calm us down, entertain us, bring us closer to each other and help us to escape from reality, especially when it becomes unpleasant. Scenes from the past, rendered on vases, murals and sculptures, preserving beautiful moments, are revealed to us both as a memory and as promise for what is about to come. On the 22nd of each month, a new exhibit will be presented, ready to narrate another story.

Selected bibliography:

1. Μουσών Δώρα. Μουσικοί και χορευτικοί απόηχοι από την Αρχαία Ελλάδα, Κατάλογος Έκθεσης, Μέγαρο Μουσικής Αθηνών 1/7-15/9/2004, ΥΠΠΟ Αθηνά 2004.

2. Chaniotis, A., Festivals and Contests in the Greek World, ThesCRA 7, 2011, 1-43, 160-172 https://www.academia.edu/3575491/Festivals_and_Contests_in_the_Greek_World angelos chaniotis

3. Hitchcock, L. Laffineur, R., Crowley, J.L. (eds.), Dais: the Aegean feast: proceedings of the 12th International Aegean Conference, University of Melbourne, Centre for Classics and Archaeology, 25-29 March 2008, Aegaeum 29, Universite de Liege, 2008.