Monday 29 January 2024

Alexander the Great: Closer than ever to the Macedonian Conqueror through the new exhibition of the Museum of Cycladic Art


Alexander the Great: Closer than ever to the Macedonian Conqueror through the new exhibition of the Museum of Cycladic Art

The impressive restoration of the Battle of Chaeronea and the portrait of Andy Warhol*

ORIGINAL GREEK ARTICLE: Anastasia Kouka, "Μέγας Αλέξανδρος: Πιο κοντά από ποτέ στον Μακεδόνα στρατηλάτη μέσα από τη νέα έκθεση του Μουσείου Κυκλαδικής Τέχνης", Proto Thema, 13.12.2023. HERE (with many more images).

A precious "meeting" with the great protagonist of the world's history, Alexander the Great, but also a beautiful representation of the day that marked the transition from the classical to the Hellenistic period is the impressive exhibition "Chaeronea, August 2, 338 BC: A The day that changed the world», which opened its doors on December 14, at the Museum of Cycladic Art, offering visitors a first-hand experience.

As its curators Panagiotis P. Iosif and Ioannis D. Fappas, who were also confirmed as scientific directors of the museum, point out, the exhibition allows us to archaeologically "touch", as never before and nowhere else in the space and in time, Alexander the Great, the iconic figure known – and yet so unknown to history for whom, on the one hand, we posses valuable written sources, yet few archeological finds that relate to his life. And this makes his myth even bigger meaning that it has attracted global interest throughout history.

Alexander the Great is therefore revealed in this exhibition through the first war conflict in which he took part, at the age of 18, the Battle of Chaeronea, which at the same time became a historical landmark. The 2nd August 338 BC, in fact changed the world as it marked the sovereignty of Macedonia of Philip II over the southern Greeks, the Athenians of Demosthenes and the Thebans. From the next day, the conquests of the Macedonian Conqueror would begin as would the dominance of the Greek culture and the gradual foundation of the western world, which marks the transition to the Hellenistic period.

In this extremely tough and wild savage, the official entry of Alexander the Great into the political and military scene took place, contributing greatly as the leader of the cavalry, to the great victory of the Macedonians, defeating thenumerically superior elite warriors of the Sacred Band who had until that point been undefeated. The remains of his presence on the field and of that of the men who fought by his side or were killed by him are unique evidence that illuminates as never before his presence as a leader.

The valuable exhibits

The battle of battles that changed the course of history is revived, in an impressive way, through a total of 240 antiquities and historical documents, a large part of which are presented for the first time and come from 27 Greek museums and foundations, foreign museums and four private collections. Among them stand out the work "Alexander the Great" (1981) created by Andy Warhol after a commission by Alexander Iolas, from MoMA - Museum of Modern Art, the two marble busts of Philip II and Demosthenes from the Chiaramonti Museum of the Vatican, the unique burial ensemble of the Warrior from Igoumenitsa with the iron breastplate and silver-plated helmet, the Macedonian shield of exceptional aesthetic and historical importance with the inscription of King Alexander (ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΥ), confiscated from illegal excavations, the golden staters of Philip, Alexander and his Successors, the bones of the Hierolochites and the fallen Macedonians, the unique tomb of Tanagra, etc.

In addition, the burial practices of the two armies are presented in the Polyandrium of the 254 Theban warriors of the Sacred Band with the monument of Lion of Chaeronea and in the Tomb of the Macedonians, while the recovery of the battle is also shown through the great excavation work of the two pioneers of Greek archaeology, at the end of 19th and at the beginning of the 20th century, by Panagiotis Stamatakis and Georgios Sotiriadis.

Of particular interest, however, is the innovative approach to the battle with modern means, in the context of which younger visitors can see a diorama of the Battle of Chaeronea with hand-made playmobil figures specially made by the collectors Angelos Giakoumatos and Tasos Panazopoulos and watch two films that were created by the company Ubisoft based on the video games Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Assassin's Creed Origins and depict the historical context before and after the battle of Chaeronea.

"The exhibition, although it also talks about the battle itself, focuses mainly on its consequences. With this battle, Macedonia was established as a dominant power in Greek affairs and the way was opened for the birth of the Hellenistic world. The democracy and the City State passed into a new era, that of the kingdoms, which laid the foundations for the creation of a world that allowed Greek civilization to reach the limits of the then known world. Where unique riches, new knowledge and experiences would be offered both to the Greeks and to the other peoples who participated in the new reality that was born after the victory of Chaeronea" notes the President and Managing Director of the Museum, Sandra Marinopoulou.

For their part, the two curators of the exhibition underline: "Two decisive factors contributed to the choice of this particular topic: this is one of the few cases in the archaeological chronicles, where the descriptions and information about an event from the ancient authors meet the important archaeological remains of the event itself, largely unknown not only to the general public, but also to the archaeological community itself.

The second factor is the theme: the main protagonists of the battle were two of the leading figures of Greek antiquity and world history, Philip II and his son Alexander III of Macedonia, whom History named “Great”. In the few square kilometers around the field of Chaeronea, these two protagonists would meet one of the most important orators of antiquity, the Athenian Demosthenes, writing the fate of the later world […].

Our goal was to give the visitor the experience of a modern approach to an ancient event, also examining the way it survived in the collective memory of the nation."


The exhibition will last until March 31, 2024.

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