These animations present festival activities. They were created for the University College Dublin Classical Museum.
The Procession and Bad Karma in situ with the vase they were made from in the University College Dublin Classical Museum.
about the vase scene
In this vase scene we see a bull being led in procession to sacrifice. The winged figure is Nike, goddess of victory; she pulls at the bull’s halter to keep him under control. The young men taking part in the procession are depicted in the nude to show them in an idealised way. They beckon the others on, eager to move the procession forward.
Processions were an important and spectacular part of ancient Greek religious festivals. Many people would be involved, often carrying special items or leading animals that would be sacrificed. The main festival at Athens was the Panathenaea, where the goddess Athena would be honoured by sacrifices, processions, and feasting. Every four years a Great Panathenaea was held which added competitions in athletics, music, and reciting Homer. Winners would be crowned with wreaths and presented with valuable oil in beautiful vases and bulls that they could sacrifice and then feast on.
The Procession was created for the UCD Classical Museum as part of an M.A. module on ancient material culture. It explores the different features that we can see in the original vase scene. Nike has wings, so here we see her flying. Nike is pulling on the bull’s halter, so here we see her take control of it. The young men beckon, so here we see them beckoning Nike along. The young men are wreathed, so here we see them crowned with wreaths by Nike, bringer of victory.
Rather than starting with an image and then coming to life, The Procession moves from the action of the animation to the static image of the original vase. This leaves us with a memory of movement, so that when we look at the vase at the end, we carry on associating the still figures with the liveliness of the moving ones.
The M.A. students begin planning their vase animation
The story for The Procession was planned by the M.A. students themselves. Their challenge was to plan movement for the vase scene that would help museum visitors to understand the vase. They created several storyboards which were then combined into the final one that the animation was made from. You can find out more about their project and exhibition in this blog post.
'the procession' storyboard
Bad Karma’s storyboard was the winning entry in the 2015 Irish Schools’ Storyboard Competition.
The competition was sponsored by the Classical Association of Ireland-Teachers.
about 'bad karma'
The story re-imagines the vase scene, adding a three-man race as the build-up and presenting the two young men on the vase as massive cheats! The goddess Nike, bringer of victory, crowns the two men who seem to be joint winners, but she accepts the complaints of the third runner and, with a knowing smile, transforms the cheats into animals. The big question is what happens next – will the new winner barbecue the 'bulls’?!
Most ancient Greek stories celebrated outstanding heroes, unlike our modern taste for stories about underdogs. But ancient and modern people share a love of stories in which gods, goddesses, or superheroes intervene to right injustices, just as Nike does here. The Greek word 'tísis’ meant 'punishment’, 'retribution’ or 'vengeance’, though it could also mean 'reward’. In Bad Karma, the cheats get their punishment while the honest athlete gets his reward.
Ancient Greeks also loved stories about metamorphosis, that is, changing form or shape-shifting. Sometimes these are acts of retribution, but sometimes they are acts of harshness or mercy. Perhaps the most famous example is when the hero Odysseus encounters the semi-divine witch, Circe, in book 10 of the Odyssey. There are animals snuffling all round her house and Odysseus realises that they are his crew, magically transformed by Circe! The Roman poet Ovid collected 250 myths of transformations and turned them into one amazing poem, The Metamorphoses. It became one of the most influential poems in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance; depicting the metamorphoses became a favourite challenge for talented artists.
Bad Karma’s storyboard was created by Eamonn O’Broin and Frank O’Grady of Gonzaga College, Dublin, winners of The Irish Schools’ Storyboarding Competition, 2015.
Winners Eamonn O’Broin and Frank O’Grady with their storyboard, with Panoply animator Steve Simons, curator Dr Jo Day, and classics teacher Dr Lucy Corcoran.
For the competition, pupils were challenged to plan an animation based on their interpretation of the vase scene. Curator Dr Jo Day said of the winning storyboard: 'We really liked the inventive way the characters use the whole scene, hanging from the decorative border and dropping in to the action. As a teaching tool it encourages you to think about how the whole vase works together, front and back, figures and decoration.’
This vase is an Attic red figure bell krater depicting Nike in a processional scene. Reverse features three clothed standing men. Late classical, c.375BCE. UCD Classical Museum, Catalogue no: UCD 197; Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum Ireland, Fascicule 1: p. 34.
1) Ask your pupils to plan a storyboard for this vase. This activity sheet can help (and it contains a blank storyboard)
2) What activity have these young men been rewarded for? Ask your pupils to storyboard them winning events in athletics, music, or poetry reading.
3) Nike rewards excellence and brings victory. Ask your pupils to discuss what actions in the modern world they think should receive a reward from Nike, and challenge them to depict them in a vase scene.
4) Nike’s name was chosen to be the name of a sports equipment company. Ask your pupils to consider reasons the name might have been chosen. Do they know any other companies named after Greek gods – why might their names have been chosen?
5) Younger pupils might enjoy decorating the bull’s face in this activity sheet.
More ancient racing:
An athlete boasts:
Chariot racing: Pelops
P.M.C. Forbes Irving, Metamorphosis in the Greek Myths, (OCP, 1990)
D.G. Kyle, Sport and Spectacle in the Ancient World, (Wiley-Blackwell, 2006)
J.Neils, Goddess and Polis: The Panathenaic Festival in Ancient Athens,
D. Philips and D. Pritchard, Sport and Festival in the Ancient Greek World,
(I.B. Taurus, 2011)
C. Sourvinou-Inwood, Athenian Myths and Festivals: Aglauros, Erechtheus, Plynteria, Panathenaia, Dionysia, (OUP, 2011)
Except where otherwise noted, content on www.panoply.org.uk by S.Simons & S.Nevin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.