War was a constant reality in ancient Greece. The heroic stories of the Iliad and Odyssey were in many cases considered by the ancient Greeks as records of their cultural origins – with some claiming direct descent from the heroes. Warfare in the ancient world takes centre-stage at the Hellenic Museum with the new exhibition, titled Heroes & Hoplites, which explores the changing nature of war in Greece through the ages.
Sarah Craig, the exhibition curator, says that “honour and status amongst ancient Greeks was fundamentally linked to their martial prowess and their ability to be the best among their peers.”
The achievements of heroes was immortalised in Homeric epics, such as the Iliad and Odyssey. These works chronicle the mighty battles and epic struggles faced by swift-footed Achilles, noble Hector, Ajax, Menelaus and cunning Odysseus.
“Warfare in ancient Greece was more than just fighting, it was an integral component of everyday life in a way that is alien to us today,” Ms Craig says.
Hellenic Museum CEO John Tatoulis hosted a launch event where he pointed out how “Greek warfare inspired mythologies and created heroes. It is indeed a beast, but an interesting beast and perhaps never more interesting than in the Ancient Greek world when it was a way of life. The exhibition Heroes & Hoplites explores that time and it does so intimately and thoroughly,” Hellenic Museum CEO, John Tatoulis stated at the launch event.
This sentiment is echoed by curator, Sarah Craig who adds, “Warfare in the ancient world is intrinsically linked to politics, economics, religion, technological development and much more. To look at warfare is to look at the evolution of ancient Greek culture.”
Visitors to the exhibition can enjoy a snapshot of warfare in antiquity thanks to a display by original and replica Greek helmets, original weaponry and a collection vases depicting scenes of warfare and battle preparation.
The Hellenic Museum is at 80 William Street, Melbourne and is open seven days a week from 10am to 4pm.