Amphora with mourning scene (around 530 BC (Photo © Musei Vaticani Governatorato SCV)
The Onassis Cultural Center New York is providing a cathartic exhibition experience with its new show, A World of Emotions: Ancient Greece
, 700BC-200AD, opening today (9 March; until 24 June), which explores expressions and depictions of feelings in Ancient Greece—in both mythology and everyday life—through more than 130 objects, including life-sized statues, coins, amulets, pottery and funerary art. The show is conceived as a “journey” through emotions, says the co-curator, the historian Angelos Chaniotis, who explains that even though some manifestations or depictions of emotions—such as the Attic custom of ostracism—seem strange, the show lets us “use ancient objects at a distance as mirrors of ourselves” to strengthen our own emotional intelligence. Some of the more bizarre objects on display include a funerary stele for a “loveable hog” (second-third century AD), the victim of a traffic accident (possibly the earliest such recorded incident, Chaniotis says), and votive offerings and amulets that depict genitals. These include a vulva depicted on a votive offering to Aphrodite (second century BC), the goddess of love, beauty, fertility and pleasure—which, though the vehicle may be strange to visitors today, expresses familiar yearnings, after all.