National Archaeological Museum: Glorious Victories. Between Myth and History

The National Herald Archive

ATHENS - The new temporary exhibition at the National Archaeological Museum "Glorious Victories. Between Myth and History" is part of the celebratory program for the 2,500-year anniversary of the Battle of Thermopylae and the Naval Battle of Salamis and has been open to the public since October 20, 2020.

The exhibition includes 105 ancient works and a model of an Athenian trireme of the 5th century BC, which are related to and bring to the fore aspects of the victorious struggle of the Greeks against the Persians, assembled both from the National Archaeological Museum as from other museums of Greece, such as the Archaeological Museums of Astros, Thebes, Olympia, as well as from the Konstantinos Kotsanas Museum of Ancient Greek Technology. Especially emblematic for the historical anniversary is the display of the bust of Themistocles, a Roman copy of an original work of the 5th cent. BC, from the Archaeological Museum of Ostia (Parco Archeologico di Ostia Antica).

The exhibition consists of eight units in total. The first six units deal with different episodes and battles of the Persian Wars. Material testimonies that show the military attire of the Greek hoplites and of the Persians, dedications of the winners in the large sanctuaries of antiquity, among which are the helmet of Miltiades, the arrowheads from the battlefield of Thermopylae, fragments of vases with traces of fire from the burning of Athens by the Persians, and inscriptions that recall to mind known and unknown protagonists of the historical events, are some of the works that the visitors will come across in the exhibition. At the same time, figures of gods and mythical heroes enhance the historical narrative and interlink it with the mythical beliefs, according to which gods and mortals joined forces to achieve the overall victory, based on the value system of the ancient Greek world. The exhibition narrative culminates in the two concluding units, which present the resonance of the Persian Wars in pictorial art —ancient and modern— and their ideological significance.

Furthermore, the bronze statue of a horse and jockey from Artemision is on display along with five vases-masterpieces with representations of athletic and musical competitions, denoting the value of victorious racing contest, individual and collective, not only in the war but also in the time of peace.

The exhibition is enhanced by digital projections that contribute to the creation of a scenic ambience, in order for the visitors to perceive the dramatic atmosphere of the events and the inspiring meaning of Nike (Victory), offering also in some cases complementary interpretive material.

The exhibition will run until the end of February 2021.