Mythology 101: Greek, Roman Exhibit Covers Lots of Ground

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Mythology 101: Greek, Roman Exhibit Covers Lots of Ground

Korea is a country rich with ancient history, but this summer in Seoul you will have an unusual opportunity to see some history of an occidental kind. The "Greek and Roman Mythology Exhibition," featuring 150 relics produced by those great Mediterranean civilizations between the sixth century B.C. and the fourth century A.D., opened July 6. It runs through the end of September at the Art Gallery in the Seoul Arts Center.

Greek and Roman mythology contains themes that have inspired many artists all around the world, and there have been many exhibitions that presented such works. The exhibition in Seoul, however, is the first to feature art that represents not just one or two of those myths, but the whole expanse of classical mythology, such as creation, the 12 Olympian gods and heroes of the time.

The exhibits are on loan from the National Archeological Museum of Naples, Italy. Some of the works are well known from art textbooks and popular illustrations. For instance, many Koreans when they were in school probably saw pictures of such sculptures as "Hercules at Rest," "Hermes" and "Aphrodite and Eros," or the fresco, "The Three Graces," featuring the goddesses of joy, charm and beauty. Pictures of the marble relief "Dionysiac Procession" and the vessel "Red Figure Nestoris," engraved with images of Hercules, Apollo and Athena, also commonly appear in art books in Korea. Red Figure Nestoris, a characteristic piece of the Etruscan period in the third century, is the prime attraction at the exhibition. It is the first time this work has come to Korea.

According to Kwon Oh-sung, organizer of the exhibition, the National Archeological Museum of Naples is one of the best of its kind in Europe, and the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities has sent a letter of authenticity for the relics on loan to Korea. "Important cultural assets are usually restricted from being sent out of Italy, but we could get the authorization to borrow the relics due to the credibility we built through a previous exhibition of the relics of Pompeii held in 1997," Mr. Kwon said.

The Seoul Arts Center is located in southern Seoul, near the Nambu Bus Terminal subway stop on subway line No. 3. Shuttle buses run regularly between the subway and the arts center. For more information, call the Art Gallery at 02-548-5393 (English available).

by Cho Hyun-wook

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