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The gods or goddesses in the Egyptian and Greek cultures not only had a religious but also an artistic significance to the people in these communities/societies. Like other cultures, the Egyptians and the Greeks made a physical representation of their gods. While art served as a means of expression, it also served in various religious and life purposes in the ancient times in both the Egyptian and the Greek cultures. Amongst many statues of goddesses, the Egyptians had four statues of Sakhmet. On the other hand, the Greeks had Aphrodite. The artistic aspect of these statues was to embody the religious representation of these cultures so that they could physically identify with their beliefs.
Sakhmet was prominent in Dynasty 18. This was the period of a new kingdom in the reign of Amenhotep. In the calendar, the period is between 1390 and 1352 BC. This goddess was most recognized in Karmak, Thebes and Upper Egypt. The statue’s height is 210 centimeters. The base’s width is 47.5 centimeters. The depth of the statue is 95.5 centimeters. Sekhmet was known to be a goddess of wrath, destruction and vengeance. Some time back, people believed the king Amenhotep III personally put the statues in Kamak (Mut Temple Complex) and the west bank of Theban (Kom el Heltan). However, as experts engaged in more research, they found out that the goddess was mostly placed in the former location.
The statue of Aphrodite was made in the imperial era in Rome and the classical period in Greece. This was between the first and the second centuries in Rome and the second and third centuries in Greece. There is a Roman version of it known as Venus. The statue’s height is 151.1 centimeters. This statue is of the Greek goddess of beauty and love. The original version of the Greek goddess was made from bronze by someone who was believed to have the name Killimanchos, or Callimachus. This was in the fifth century BC. Unfortunately, the information available regarding the goddess is not enough. These people were willing to express their sexuality physically.
Both works portray this art in a way that the cultures wanted the other people to perceive them in the way they perceived themselves. The Egyptian goddess had the head of a lion. The eyes were small and intense while the jaws showed prominence and sinewy. This nature of god depicts her ability to become violent although she can be appeased with great effort. This goddess was put in the temple for the sake of saving the king from evil and illness for one year. The collection of the statues was believed to appease the goddess from invoking her unwanted powers. There were almost 760 goddesses where every pair represented each day of the year. The pair appeared as one seated and the other standing, thus the goddess protected the king all year round.
The goddess Aphrodite was also used for positive purposes. Her arms were made in a way that they seemed to cover her naked breasts. She also seems to be walking, and her posture shows that her body is more leaned on one leg. Through this sculpture, the artists show the incredible nature of the human body. Since sexuality was identified with females, her stature and her pose revealed this perception of the Greeks. In this manner, people would identify their own sexuality at a closer range.
As revealed, the state of both cultures felt that the goddesses revealed some form of a religious significance to their actions and outcomes. The Egyptian kings believed that they were well, because they appeased the goddess Sakhmet. Otherwise, they would all die of sickness. On the other hand, the Greeks believed that the presence of beauty, love and sexuality was represented by the goddess Aphrodite. They wanted to feel that what they felt and did was a force of certain supernatural activity/forces. I feel that the Egyptians lived more in fear rather than excitement. While the Egyptians did what they ought to do in order to stay alive, the Greeks enjoyed being alive. Their awe towards sex and beauty showed that their culture was more proud of such activities termed as taboos in some areas than they were ashamed of them. On the other hand, the Egyptian culture concerned itself with the well-being of their kings.
There is the concept of ma’at in both cultures as I have observed. Ma’at is the concept of justice, morality, law, order, balance and truth. There is an aspect, or aspects, of this concept in representation of these pieces of art in both cultures. The Egyptian goddess Sakhmet shows balance, order and morality in its own existence. Unlike the Greeks, the Egyptians are conservative. The Egyptians emphasize on balance by creating a woman who was partly human and partly animal. The goddess had a head that looked like that of a lion and one hand looked like the paw of a lion. The rest of the body looks like that of a human being. The nature of this statue showed that the Egyptian culture believed in the cruelty of gods while it also believed in gods’ sympathy. As stated, the goddess was appeased so that it could reveal its sympathetic nature.
The similarity with the Greek goddess arises in the representation of the sculpture. Although the statue is naked, the posture and the details create some balance. While the nakedness of the sculpture shows that people were proud of their sexuality, the goddess’ hands that tend to cover some parts of her naked body showed that they were sensitive of their nakedness. This was a part when they believed that they still had morals despite their courageous perception of their sexuality. In my observation, both cultures wanted to show that people can accommodate two sides of an attribute within themselves. It was a matter of carrying the “good” and the ‘bad” and revealing both sides at an appropriate time.
Both pieces of art were produced in the way that they appeared for a reason. Both pieces were made from different materials. While the Greek goddess was made from marble, the Egyptian goddess was made from black granite. These two materials are readily available in the two regions. The Egyptians mostly made their piece of art from what was available. This must have made their work easier. However, they also used materials that represented the nature of work they were making. In this case, this goddess was destructive. Black is associated with the dark nature of things in the majority of cases. This is why the artists chose to use black granite for making these pieces of art. Additionally, black is bold and therefore it brings some form of power and courageousness according to my observation.
On the other hand, the Greeks used marble. Marble is also readily available in Greece. Marble is used by the majority of artists due to its bright colors and attractive final finish. As indicated, Aphrodite was a goddess of beauty and love. Most people associate love with bright colors. Her appearance represented what she stood for and so the people were ready to associate with her. Additionally, since the marble is some form of white, it signifies the innocence of love and the nakedness of her love and beauty. It is clear that the artists from both cultures wanted to show that they did a physical representation of what they believed in to the core details.
As stated earlier, the Egyptian goddess was half animal and the other hand was represented in human form. On the other hand, the Greek goddess was fully human (as a woman). Destruction and wrath are mostly perceived as barbaric and acts that are performed by animals. This is why the woman’s head is a lion’s head. However, the woman has some sympathetic feelings due to her motherly nature. This is why the rest of her body is that of a woman. On the other hand, the Greek goddess is fully a human (a woman). Most people associate love, sex and erotic feelings with women. Additionally, the woman seems to be walking. Her body also seems to be more leaned on one leg as she seems to shy away from her nakedness (her head is tilted sideways). All these representations show that people are proud of their sexual nature although they also shy away from it when a need arises.
The Egyptian goddess was mostly meant for the kings. The sculptures were placed in temples as a pair represented each day of the year. Like in the other societies, the king was the most important person in Egypt and so there was a great need to protect him. These sculptures were placed in temples so that people could play a significant role of protecting the king against any evil that may make him unwell. On the other hand, the Egyptian goddess was meant for everybody. She was a fertility figure in the culture of the Egyptians as her nakedness shows. It is significant to remember that some parts of her body were covered with some cloth. However, the nakedness of her breasts and the other parts of the body shows that she was seen as a fertility figure.
As mentioned, the Greek goddess was meant to leave the impression of sexuality, fertility, love and beauty. On the other hand, the Egyptian goddess was meant to leave fear as much as she brought the feeling of sympathy when appeased. According to my observations, all these impressions played a significant role in aiding other cultures understand the Greek and Egyptian cultures. For example, even though I am not from Greece, I am able to understand the Greeks’ perception of particular issues such as love, sexuality, fertility and beauty. On the other hand, I am able to understand the ancient Egyptians’ perception of life and death. In the Egyptian’s culture, like in the other cultures, keeping the king alive was the most significant task, thus the goddesses’ representation in the temples as placed by the king.
The Egyptian goddess has clothes while the Greek goddess is partly covered with clothes. There is nothing romantic or exciting about wrath, destruction or cruelty. This is why the goddess is fully covered. However, love relates to sex and fertility. This is why the goddess from Greece shows some parts of her body such as her breasts. Additionally, the striking difference shows the true nature of differences in the feelings they arise in person. According to my observation, both cultures wanted to generate feelings that both sculptures represented even by the mare look of the statues.
From a general perspective, the Greeks were fond of making naked sculptures of their gods and goddesses. On the other hand, the Egyptians made their gods and goddesses with their full attire as they perceived them. These two attributes are seen in both sculptures. In my perception, people from Greece showed this nakedness as they felt that the gods and goddesses were proud of their sexuality and they were fertile as the humans should be fertile. On the other hand, the Egyptians felt that the gods should be treated with respect and they were covering their nakedness was a mark of respect. In both scenarios, people tried to show a positive nature of their gods and goddesses. Although some people might argue that the Greeks were immoral due to their public display of their gods’ nakedness, they had no such intentions. Just as the Egyptians’ respect of their gods and goddesses, the Greeks respected their goddesses and gods in their own way.
The artistic aspect of these statues was to present a physical religious representation of these cultures so that they could physically identify with their beliefs. They wanted to show that gods or goddesses were as responsible for life and death as they were responsible for love, beauty, fertility and sexuality. According to my observations, all these impressions played a significant role in aiding other cultures understand the Greek and the Egyptian cultures. People from other regions can understand people from Greece and Egypt by simply looking at the cultures. They are able to see that while some cultures appreciated the physical representation of a human, other cultures felt that there was an “animal” side of a human. The arts prove that one can understand the cultures and the representations of the people from which the art work represents by simply looking at the piece of art.