Continuity or Rupture? Further Thoughts on the ‘Classical Revolution’ (2500+ Years after Salamis)


  • Andrew Stewart


Greek sculpture, 'Classical Revolution', Greek painting, art


In the last half-dozen years, the early fifth-century BC ‘Classical Revolution’ in Greek sculpture and painting has become ‘hot’ again. Did it develop gradually, incrementally, and logically out of the Archaic, or emerge quite suddenly (if so, when?), or involve some combination of both? Since chronology drives the debate, as usual in the study of ancient material culture, to restate some basic principles seems appropriate.


BAPD = Beazley Archive Pottery Database:

DNO = Kansteiner, S., Lehmann, L., and K. Hallof (eds). 2014. Der neue Overbeck. Die antiken Schriftquellen zu den bildenden Künste der Griechen. 5 vols. Berlin: De Gruyter:

IG = Inscriptiones Graecae. 1873-present. Berlin and New York: Reimer; De Gruyter.

OLD = Glare, P.G.W. (ed). 2012. The Oxford Latin Dictionary, 2nd edition. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press:

PHI = Packard Humanities Institute, Searchable Greek Inscriptions:

TLG = Thesaurus Linguae Graecae:

Adornato, G. 2019. Kritios and Nesiotes as Revolutionary Artists? Ancient and Archaeological Perspectives on the So-Called Severe Style Period. American Journal of Archaeology 123: 557-587.

Angiò, F., Cuypers, F., Acosta-Hughes, B., and E. Kosmetatou (eds) 2016. New Poems Attributed to Poseidippos. A Text in Progress. Version 13. > publications.

Angliker, E., and J. Tully (eds) 2018. Cycladic Archaeology and Research: New Approaches and Discoveries. Oxford: Archaeopress.

Azoulay, V. 2017. The Tyrant-Slayers of Ancient Athens. A Tale of Two Statues. New York: Oxford University Press.

Bankel, H. Forthcoming. Aegina, Aphaia-Tempel. Neues zu den Giebeln des frühklassischen Tempels der Aphaia auf Aegina und zu anderen Werken des ‘Aphaia-Architekten.’ architectura 48.2 (2019) and (English translation) JGA 7 (2022) in press.

Barringer, J.M. 2020. When Does ‘Classical’ Begin? In Meyer and Adornato (eds) 2020: 49-57.

Barthes, R. 1984/1986. Le Bruissement de la langue/The Rustle of Language. Paris: Éditions du Seuil/New York: Hill and Wang.

Biers, W.R. 1992. Art, Artefacts, and Chronology in Classical Archaeology. London and New York: Routledge.

Brendle, R.D. 2017. The Function and Significance of Late Attic Black Figure Vases. Unpublished PhD dissertation, Johns Hopkins University.

Brinkmann, V. 2002. Die Ausläufer der archaischen Skulptur und die archaischen Formelemente in der Zeit der frühen Klassik, in P.C. Bol (ed.) Die Geschichte der antiken Bildhauerkunst I. Frühgriechische Plastik: 271–280. Mainz: von Zabern.

Brinkmann, V. 2006. Ilion ist der Ursprung allen Ruhms – Der Mythos als politisches Monument, in R. Wünsche (ed.) Mythos Troja: 410–417, 428–429. Munich: Staatliche Antikensammlungen und Glyptothek.

Brinkmann, V. (ed.). 2016. Zurück zur Klassik. Ein Neue Blick auf das alte Griechenland. Munich: Hirmer.

Brunnsåker, S. 1955/1971. The Tyrant-Slayers of Kritios and Nesiotes, repr. with postscript (Skrifter utgivna av Svenska Institutet i Athen/Acta Instituti Atheniensis Regni Sueciae in 4o, no. 17). Stockholm: Svenska Institutet i Athen.

Buschor, E. 1949. Das hellenistische Bildnis. Munich: Biederstein.

Carpenter, R. 1960. Greek Sculpture: A Critical Review. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Corso, A. 2013. The Education of Artists in Ancient Greece, in F. Raviola (ed) L’indagine e la rima. Scritti per Lorenzo Braccesi (Hesperia 30): 369-399. Rome: Bretschneider.

Corso, A. 2016. Sugli agoni di artisti nella Grecia classica. Atti dell’Accademia nazionale dei Lincei: Rendiconti 27: 115-127.

Davis, W. 1990. Style and History in Art History, in M.W. Conkey and C.A. Hasdorf (eds) The Uses of Style in Archaeology: 18-31. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Didi-Huberman, G. 1995. Conversation with Rosalind Krauss. Artforum 33: 64-65.

Didi-Huberman, G. 2000. Devant le temps: Histoire de l’art et anachronisme des images. Paris: Minuit.

Diels, H. 1904. Laterculi Alexandrini auf einem Papyrus ptolemaischer Zeit. Abhandlungen der Deutschen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin, Philologisch-historische Klasse: 2. Berlin: Akademie-Verlag.

Dirschedl, U. 2019. The Archaic Apollo Sanctuary of Didyma, the Canachus Apollo, and the So-Called Persian Destruction. In Palagia and Sioumpara (eds) 2019: 234-249.

Guthrie, W.K.C. 1969. A History of Greek Philosophy. 3. The Fifth-Century Enlightenment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hayton, D. 2012. Discovery in Kuhn’s Structure.

Herda, A. 2019. Some Remarks on Miletos Before and After the Persian Wars, in Palagia and Sioumpara (eds) 2019: 250-267.

Hitzl, K. 2016. Zur Chronologie des Schatzhauses der Athener in Delphi, in M. Giannopoulou and Chr. Kallinē (eds) Ēchadin: Timētikos Tomos gia tē Stella Drougou: 363-376. Athens: Tameio Archaiologikōn Porōn kai Apallotriōseōn.

Hurwit, J. 2015. Artists and Signatures in Ancient Greece. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press.

Kaufmann, T. DaC. 2010. Periodization and Its Discontents. Journal of Art Historiography 2

Kleingünther, A. 1933. ‘Prōtos heuretēs’: Untersuchungen zur Geschichte einer Fragestellung (Philologus Supplementband 26: 1). Göttingen: Dieterich.

Kourayos, I. 2012. Despotiko: The Sanctuary of Apollo, ed. K. Daifa; tr. C. Panagiotopoulou. Athens: Canellopoulos Foundation.

Krahmer, G. 1923-24. Stilphasen der hellenistischen Plastik. Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, Römische Mitteilungen 38-39: 138-184.

Kuhn, T. 1962/2012. Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 1st and 4th editions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Lapatin, K. 2010. The ‘Art’ of Politics. Arethusa 43: 253-265.

Lindenlauf, A. 2016. A Depositional Analysis of the so-called Kore-pit on the Acropolis of Athens. Unpublished abstract of a paper delivered at the Archaeological Institute of America Annual Meetings, Saturday, January 9, 2016.

Lynch, K. 2020. Attic Fineware at the Turn of the 5th Century: Shapes and Images, in Meyer and Adornato (eds) 2020: 125-134.

Marconi, C. 2005. I Theoroi di Eschilo e le antefisse sileniche siceliote. Sicilia Antiqua 2: 75–93.

Meyer, M. 2015. Wann und warum? Zur Diskussion um den Beginn der Klassik. Gephyra 9: 15-21.

Meyer, M., and G. Adornato (eds) 2020. Innovations and Inventions in Athens, c.530-470 BC (Wiener Forschungen zur Archäologie 14). Vienna: Phoibos.

Oenbrink W. 2004. Die Tyrannenmörder. Aristokratische Identifikationsfiguren oder Leitbilder der athenischen Demokratie? Rezeption eines politischen Denkmals in der attischen Vasenmalerei, in J. Gebauer, E. Grabow, F. Jünger, and D. Metzler (eds) Bildergeschichte. Festschrift Klaus Stähler: 373-400. Möhnesee: Bibliopolis.

Ohly, D. 1976. Die Aegineten: die Marmorskulpturen des Tempels der Aphaia auf Aegina: eine Katalog der Glyptothek München. Munich: Beck.

Overbeck, J.A. 1868. Die antiken Schriftquellen zur Geschichte der bildende Künste bei den Griechen. Leipzig: Engelmann.

Palagia, O., and E.P. Sioumpara (eds) 2019. From Hippias to Kallias. Greek Art in Athens and Beyond, 527-449 BC. Athens: Acropolis Museum.

Pollitt, J.J. 1974. The Ancient View of Greek Art. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

Rabinowitz, A. 2014. It’s About Time: Historical Periodization and Linked Ancient World Data. ISAW Papers 7.22.

Rabinowitz, A., Shaw, R., Buchanan, S., Golden, P., and E. Kansa. 2016. Making Sense of the Ways We Make Sense of the Past: The PeriodO Project. Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 59.2: 42-55.

Richter, G. M. A. 1942. Kouroi. New York: Oxford University Press. (2nd ed., 1960; 3rd ed. 1970: London: Phaidon).

Richter, G. M. A. 1970. An Aristogeiton from Baiae. American Journal of Archaeology 74: 296-297.

Ridgway, B.S. 1970. The Severe Style in Greek Sculpture. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Ridgway, B.S. 1985. Late Archaic Sculpture, in C.G. Boulter (ed) Greek Art: Archaic Into Classical: 1-17. Leiden: Brill.

Robertson, M. 1992. The Art of Vase-Painting in Classical Athens. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press.

Rolley, C. 1994. La sculpture grecque 1: Des origines au milieu du 5e siècle (Les manuels d’art et d’archéologie antiques). Paris: Picard.

Rotroff, S.I. 2020. New Contextual Evidence for the Introduction of Red-Figure, in Meyer and Adornato (eds) 2020: 115-123.

Schweitzer, B. 1932/1963. Xenokrates von Athen. Schriften der Königsberger gelehrten Gesellschaft, Geisteswissenschaftliche Klasse 9: 1-52. Repr. in B. Schweitzer, Zur Kunst der Antike. Ausgewählte Schriften (1963): 105-164. Tübingen: Wasmuth.

Slawisch, A. 2019. Figures in Motion. An Ionian Perspective on the Severe Style. Annual of the British School at Athens 114: 145-165.

Stewart, A. 1990. Greek Sculpture. An Exploration. 2 vols. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

Stewart, A. 1996. Art, Desire, and the Body in Ancient Greece. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press.

Stewart, A. 1998. Nuggets: Mining the Texts Again. American Journal of Archaeology 102: 271-282.

Stewart, A. 2003. Attalos, Athens, and the Akropolis. The Pergamene ‘Little Barbarians’ and their Roman and Renaissance Legacy. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press.

Stewart, A. 2008. The Persian and Carthaginian Invasions of 480 BCE and the Beginning of the Classical Style in Greek Sculpture. American Journal of Archaeology 112: 377-412, 581-615.

Stewart, A. 2018. Notes on the Ori­gins and Development of the ‘Agora of the Kerameikos’: In Honorem Bert Smith, in C.M. Draycott, R. Raja, K. Welch, and W.T. Woot­ton (eds) Visual Histories of the Classical World. Essays in Honour of R.R.R. Smith (Studies in Classical Archaeology 4): 299–308. Turnhout: Brepols.

Stewart, A. 2021. Paragone? Xenophon, Sokrates, and Quintilian on Greek Painting and Sculpture, in J.M. Barringer and F. Lissarrague (eds) Images at the Crossroads: Meanings, Media, Methods: 257-279. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Taylor, M.W. 1991. The Tyrant Slayers: The Heroic Image in Fifth Cen­tury BC Athenian Art and Politics, 2nd edition. Salem, N.H: Ayer.

Thraede, K. 1962. Das Lob des Erfinders. Rhenisches Museum 105: 158–86.

Von den Hoff, R. 2009. Herakles, Theseus, and the Athenian Treasury at Delphi, in R. von den Hoff and P. Schulz (eds) Structure, Image, Ornament: Architectural Sculpture of the Greek World: 96-104. Oxford: Oxbow.

Von Ranke, L. 1824. Geschichten der romanischen und germanischen Völker von 1494 bis 1535. Leipzig and Berlin: Reimer.

Von Wilamowitz-Moellendorf, U. 1881/1965. Antigonos von Karystos. Philosophische Untersuchungen 4. Berlin: Akademie Verlag.

Wollheim, R. 1980. Art and its Objects. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wünsche, R. 2020. Neues zu den Ägineten, in Meyer and Adornato (eds) 2020: 253-281.



How to Cite

Stewart, A. (2021). Continuity or Rupture? Further Thoughts on the ‘Classical Revolution’ (2500+ Years after Salamis). Journal of Greek Archaeology, 6, 200–227. Retrieved from