Style and "Substance"

Presocratic Hercules

The depiction of Hercules and the Nemean Lion can be viewed in relation to Presocratic thought and the worldview it constructed. The primary element in this work which embodies this is the contact between the figures of Hercules and the Lion . This mode of style conveys the immanent theory put forth in Presocratic thought which established a distinct move away from the previous archaic ontology. As seen on the vase, there is no distinct separation, no untouchable divinity far above humanity, instead the world is full of gods. This immanence relates to a system of whole and part which is a central aspect of this thought, which can again be seen in the work of art in the separation of the limbs and heads of the two figures contrasted with the absolute unity of the figures into one. The medium of a vase, as well as the manner in which the figures are arranged, encaptures the sense of opposition as a central principle in this tradition of thought. The vase as a cylindrical object has no ending and can be circled around to show the all of the figures on it continuously and repeatedly. The lion and Hercules are at conflict literally, but their representation also creates two oppositional vectors. The form of the vase then forces this conflict of vectors to resolve into a continuous unity, imparting part of the concept of the cosmos for the Presocratics.

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