Secularization of the image of Hades and the underworld in Ancient Greece through the example of vase painting




vase painting, Hades, secularization, secular, antiquity , religion, mythology


The investigation into the development of plots within the realm of artistic expression remains an enduringly pertinent subject. The distinctive backdrop of Ancient Greece offers a unique perspective for elucidating this evolutionary process, particularly through the medium of vase painting.

The author specifically aimed at tracing the progression of a specific narrative type, centred around the depiction of the afterlife realm of Hades. This study also encompasses broader implications that can be inferred from the chronological evolution of this thematic construct. The intellectual landscape of the Greeks underwent a noticeable phase of desacralisation, characterised by a palpable shift in attitude. Narratives and figures that once commanded reverence started to be portrayed with reduced deference. The transformation of depictions related to Hades, spanning from the archaic to the classical period, is substantial. This transformation includes not only the iconography of Hades himself but also extends to his surrounding environment and accompanying characters. The very configuration of the underworld underwent a metamorphosis, and the personas within it underwent alterations. This process of desacralisation is not confined to vase painting alone; it extends into literature, a facet that will be detailed further. Significant changes in eschatological concepts find explicit expression in the works of notable contemporaries such as Plato, Euripides, Aristotle, and others. The evolution is particularly evident in relation to mythologies, with a noticeable surge in scepticism and critical scrutiny directed towards previously venerated myths. This critical perspective on myths was a relatively novel phenomenon in the literary domain until a certain epoch. Moreover, an exploration of the evolution of myths and the fluctuating popularity of specific narratives offers a lens through which to gauge the prevailing sentiments among the citizens of Greek city-states.

Through a comprehensive analysis of diverse sources, the author endeavours to draw new conclusions and formulate fresh hypotheses.





Ancient, Medieval and Early Modern art

How to Cite

Secularization of the image of Hades and the underworld in Ancient Greece through the example of vase painting. (2024). Text and Image: Essential Problems in Art History, 2(16).