Severo Calzetta da Ravenna

Active in Northern Italy c. 1496–1543, circle of
Kneeling Satyr
First third of 16th century, bronze, height 20.5 cm

467 BV

Tragic poetry in Athens


Pratinas of Phlius (d. probably 467 BC in Pratinas), one of the earliest tragic poets in Athens, is considered to be the father of the satyr play. It is a form of comedy in which fantastic and bawdy topics dictate the plot. Satyrs – mythological figures, half man, half animal – gathered around the god Dionysos, are at the centre of the action. The popular satyr play provided a contrast to tragedy and served to amuse and entertain the people of Athens. The satyr accompanied the Greeks in everyday life in antiquity as testified by the satyr playing the aulos (a wind instrument) that the Attic vase painter Epiktetos (520–500 BC) chose as a motif.



A material used by artists

Bronze was already used to create artworks in antiquity.
This alloy of copper and tin is poured into a mould. After cooling, the artist polishes the surface or continues working on the figure. Durability, the beauty of its patina and the metal’s high value are some of the reasons for its popularity. Unfortunately the recyclability of the material is a great disadvantage as many wonderful bronze figures were taken in times of war to make cannons. Others have been melted down to cast new figures with the metal as well


Ancient Greece

Lost in the course of time

The art of Ancient Greece was a great inspiration in the Renaissance. However, Attica and the Aegean Islands had to change sides, politically, at this time. Following the Sack of Constantinople in 1453 by the Ottomans, large swathes of the Greek-speaking area then belonged to the Sultan’s realm. Even the naval power Venice did little to hold the conquerors at bay and gradually lost its position of supremacy in the Mediterranean.