Photo of the week: the Greek War of Independence

Today’s picture is in honor of the Greek War of Independence, celebrated throughout Greece on March 25th.

The picture belongs to a series of paintings (and other works of art) inspired by the war, which broke out in 1821.

More romantic (or idealistic) than realistic, these paintings are more a reflection of how the artists (or their patrons) saw the Greek struggle for Independence. Many sacrifice accuracy to emphasise the proximity of the fighters to their ancient forebears (symbolicaly represented by nearby antiquities) or, alternatively, stress the pathos of the struggle and the bravery (or fiendishness) of the combatants.

This picture, by Georg Perlberg, shows an idealised battle, supposedly fought near the ruins of the Temple of Zeus, in Athens. The sheer number of the fighters and the cleanliness of their normally ragged and dirty outfits proclaim the artist’s intentions: this picture was not meant to be a photographically accurate depiction of a real battle, but rather an idealised version of what a Greek battle might look like, with emphasis on the exotic; notice the detailed costumes of the fighters, the camel, the antiquities in the background. The temple of Zeus is shown much too close to the Acropolis, a mistake probably due to misinterpretation the material available (usually prints based on drawings made by visitors to Greece in the years before the war broke out).


Georg Perlberg, Battle scene from the Greek War of Independence. From here.


2 comments on “Photo of the week: the Greek War of Independence

  1. Aristotelis: this has been my computer’s screenshot since August while I prepared the HIST 484 class to come to Greece. Soon, I suppose, I must change it, but I’ve gotten so used to the image…

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