A Timeless Legacy: From Greece to Rome
A Timeless Legacy: From Greece to Rome
  • Jo Yoo Suyeon
  • 승인 2024.04.01 10:00
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The world's many nations interact and grow from one another culturally, socially, and politically. The development of nations through these interactions is a phenomenon that has occurred throughout history. This becomes clear when we see artifacts from different countries and time periods gathered in a museum, and despite having obvious geographical differences, they have similar patterns and expressions. This SMT reporter would like to introduce the exhibition "Separate But Inseparable: Mythology and Culture of Ancient Greece and Rome," which shows how the people of Greece and Rome had a shared culture.



A history of cultural sharing and progress

The relationship between Greece and Rome was intertwined by the factor of war. Rome conquered Greece in the process of expanding its power, starting in the 2nd century B.C. While the country was lost, their culture was absorbed by Rome, which recognized the value of Greek culture. This shows the power that Greek philosophy, art, and other parts of its culture had on Rome. Greek mythology, which is still popular today, also conveys the culture and customs that were common in ancient Greece and passed on to the Roman Empire. As such, the exhibition focuses on showing the cultural connections shared by the two nations.
The exhibition is being held at the National Museum of Korea, located in Yongsan-gu. To get to the exhibition from Sookmyung Women's University, take the train from SMWU station heading for Oido or Sadang and get off at Ichon Station. Go out of exit 2 and walk for about five minutes until you reach the National Museum of Korea. The exhibition is in Room 311 on the 3rd floor of the museum's permanent exhibition hall. There is no need for reservations or on-site ticketing, and a guide gives an explanation of the exhibition once a day at 11, 1, and 3 o'clock. The commentary is also available as a video that can be accessed on one's personal device by scanning the QR code in the exhibition hall. A pamphlet at the entrance of the exhibition room contains photos and brief descriptions of the artifacts in the exhibition for better understanding.



Discovering the traditions of those times

"Separate But Inseparable: Mythology and Culture of Ancient Greece and Rome" is organized into three parts, each of which explains a different aspect of Greek and Roman culture. The first, "The World of Mythology," introduces the mythological stories created by the people of Greece and Rome and the gods they worshiped. Among the artifacts on display are Roman clay lanterns depicting daily images of various gods. These depictions aim to show the gods' daily lives, drinking alcohol and socializing with animals, in line with the idea that gods were thought to have human forms. The pieces are accompanied by an explanation that the same god was called by different names in Greece and Rome. For example, Zeus, the king of the mythological gods, is the Greek name, while in Rome he is called Jupiter. The difference in names suggests that romanization occurred as Rome took over Greek culture and traditions. Unlike the first part, which focuses on the gods, the second part, "The World of Man," presents works of art with a human theme. In contrast to the Greeks, whose god-centered worldview led them to focus on the gods in their artwork, the Romans were much more interested in real people. One of the sculptures on display is of Gaius Julius Caesar, a Roman general, whose facial expressions and folds of his clothes are depicted in detail. This gives a sense of the atmosphere of the time, when art was made to resemble real life in order to show respect for those in authority.
In the area between the second and third parts, there is a projector on one wall showing a video of Greek people enjoying a banquet and a recreation of a garden from that period. After watching this video, one comes to the final part, "Empire of Shadows," in the next room. Unlike the first and second parts, as the word "shadow" suggests, it consists of black walls on which the artifacts alone are illuminated. This set-up aims to convey the Greek and Roman view of death. They believed that when a person dies, he or she does not completely disappear from this world but lives a new life in a different form. This concept is also reflected in The Master of Board Games, Rest in Peace. This piece was used as an urn and has the image of someone deceased playing a board game carved into it. It means that to honor the owner of the urn, it was decorated in the hope that he would be happy in the next world playing the board game he enjoyed in this life. The exhibition concludes with a message about the values of the people of the time, who saw death as the beginning of a new life rather than something darker.



Ratings: ★★★★★

This exhibition introduces visitors to the Greek and Romans' perceptions of gods, humans, and death and the culture that emerged from them. Detailed descriptions play a role in ensuring that these cultures are not forgotten and remain in people's consciousness even now. This SMT reporter recommends this exhibition to those who want to feel the power of Greek culture through the ages by means of artifacts.

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