Tag Archives: Ancient Greece

Welcome to hell...I mean, Hades

If you want to get the god of the underworld to do you a favor, you had best rosin up your bow and get ready to fiddle for your soul. Oh wait, wrong story. Music is still the key, though, and I’d wager a fiddle made of gold that the Ancient Greek hero Orpheus could even beat Johnny from Georgia; at very least he played his lyre so beautifully that it moved the cold heart of Hades to compassion, granting him his desire to take the shade of his beloved wife Eurydice back to the surface (with some provisos, admittedly). Simon NH has built the scene of the hero before the god, and it captures the feeling of the underworld perfectly.

Hades' Favour

The god is fittingly large in relation to the mortal, and his face is cold and foreboding. His crown is made from sais is nice and spiky, and chains hanging everywhere give it all the feel of a dungeon. My favorite bits are the green flames made from jagged-edged swords, just for the splash of color it gives to an otherwise dreary-toned build. But what really sets this build apart is the dramatic lighting. Everything is in shadows except the figures and the bit of path separating them, setting the stage for the dramatic performance of Orpheus. Despite being, in my mind, the Hawkeye of the Greek heroes (Jason: “What’s your superpower?” Orpheus: “I play the lyre.”), Orpheus ends up being one of the most impressive of them all.

A LEGO philosopher’s dream

Sometimes the best inspiration for a LEGO creation comes from someone else’s failure, or at least from their frustrated abandonment of a complex idea. Pau Padrós‘s brother attempted to build Raphael’s masterpiece “The School of Athens”, but was about to give up; Pau took the build, changed the scale, and ran with it to create this amazing digital model. The painting, and thus the plastic version, focuses on the two most important philosophers of the Greek world, and thus of Western civilization: Plato and Aristotle. Naturally, some details of the original painting have been lost—I don’t recall Euclid’s face being a hollow square in Raphael’s version—but it is still a masterwork in forms; Plato would be proud. (That’s a philosophy pun, if you missed it.) I love how Pau has kept the detail of the two philosophers’ hands, with Plato’s pointing to the sky (where the ideal forms of all things reside) and Aristotle’s flat over the ground (which is the natural world, the observation of which is the source of our knowledge).

The School of Athens

Besides the philosophers shown, which is exciting enough, Pau has hidden all sorts of details in the build. Each of the figures of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle are comprised of twenty-two pieces, which in numerology means that they are on the path to turn dreams to reality. Of the 41 solid colors of LEGO in production, 38 are used, which perhaps represents the broad range of ideas held by these different men (and woman). The sextant makes for an effective lyre in Apollo’s statue’s hand, and a droid body approximates Athena’s Aegis-shield well enough. Don’t miss the green barbed wire as Epicurus’ garland, either. With forty-seven philosophers here (everyone from Alexander to Zeno) there’s something for everyone to appreciate and emulate. Most importantly, perhaps, is the lost art of disagreeing amicably and discussing rationally.

Want to see more of the build? Check out the video here:

Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, unless it’s a Trojan horse

The story of the Trojan horse is one of the most well known in ancient Hellenic lore. In the classical version, following a fruitless and decade-long siege of the city of Troy, the Greeks constructed a gigantic wooden horse in which they had hidden their finest warriors. The Greeks feigned defeat, and the Trojans pulled the horse into their city as a victory trophy. That night, the Greek force crept out of the horse and opened the gates for the rest of the Greek army, which had sailed back under cover of night. The Greeks entered and destroyed the city of Troy, ending the war. It was a brilliant coup, though historians have argued its veracity ever since. Regardless of whether or not the Trojan horse actually existed, Martin Harris wonderfully brings the story to life in LEGO form with his depiction of that fateful gift-giving moment.

WOW, look what they left us

One has to admire the simple but imposing Trojan walls and gate, which stood up to 10 years of determined Greek attacks (the angled walls are a great touch, though a bit more landscaping around the bottom edge would help break up the abrupt edges). The Trojans lined up along the battlements and the Greeks laboriously pushing the horse depict the sheer scale of this creation. Continue reading

When the Spartans surrendered in bricks

Between 431 and 404 BC, Sparta was the principal enemy of Athens during the Peloponnesian War. Mpyromaxos has created a particular battle from this war, the Battle of Sphacteria, when a  small force from the Spartan army was isolated on the island of Sphacteria by the Athenians. The scene depicts the Athenian forces landing on the island after a surprise attack which included a risky move to attack the Spartans from the rear, thus forcing their surrender. The main focus of this build is on the land-based action so I rather like the way that only the front portion of the Athenian’s ship is included with some  sea spilling over the edge of the build.

Battle of Sphacteria 425 BC

On the left of the diorama, Mpyromaxos has included the Temple of Athena and statues of gods Dioscures, Kastor, and Polydeuces, who were all worshipped by the Spartans. The close-up view below shows some of the battle enfolding.  I love the little arrow stuck in the wall of the Spartan fortifications.

Battle of Sphacteria 425 BC

If you want to see more close-up views of the action, the builder has an album on Flickr, entitled Battle of Sphacteria.

Catch Yanni or Vangelis at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus

The Odeon of Herodes Atticus is a theater on the Acropolis in Athens, which still hosts concerts, plays, and other events today. George Panteleon has recreated this ancient Greek structure in LEGO, with a central stage, a ring of seating, and the original backdrop against which both modern and ancient artists wowed the crowd.

Odeon of Herodes Atticus

The technique George used for the sloped seating is quite interesting, and worth a closer look. Clips connect slopes set on their side to achieve the classic bowl shape of theaters.

Odeon of Herodes Atticus

A vibrant Greek city on the sea

The annual Kockice Brickstory Contest attracted a lot of talented builders this year including jaapxaap’s Hanging Gardens of Babylon that we posted on Wednesday, but Simon Schweyer‘s Greek Polis is the most massive entry I’ve seen so far.

A Classical Greek Polis

There is so much to take in! Four unique homes, an amphitheater filled with tiny citizens, a vineyard, a goat herder, a temple, an Oracle inspired by the one in Delphi, and even a man-powered war galley.

A Classical Greek Polis (Herder) A Classical Greek Polis (Trireme)

You can check out even more details on Flickr.

Herakles, Herakles, Heracles!

One great thing to come out of the collectible minifig craze has been a renewed effort by builders to capture ancient Greece in all its mythological splendor. The latest builder to capitalize on the available cast of characters is mihaimmariusmihu who brings to life one of the labors of Herakles; the rescue of Prometheus from his eternal torture chained to a rock at the foot of Kazbek Mountain. The admittedly few sources I checked indicated that this particular labor was not one of the original 12, but was sort of an extended adventure. I’m sure Hesiod and Aeschylus would agree, however, that this is a great diorama with bold colors and classical details, even if the gang of minotaurs seems a little odd. Unfortunately this is one of the few times I was hoping for a back-story or explanation of some kind, the builder doesn’t have much to say on Flickr. Perhaps this posting will coax him out.

Showdown with Herakles / On the foot of the Kazbek Mountain

“I get knocked down, but I get up again, you’re never gonna keep me down”

You can’t stop Ryan McNaught (TheBrickMan), you can only hope to contain him. Feast your eyes on Ryan’s LEGO Acropolis, currently on display in the Nicholson Museum in Sydney as part of their “Etruscans: a classical fantasy” exhibition. According to the museum’s website:

Following on from the extraordinary success of the LEGO Colosseum in 2012, the Brickman, Ryan McNaught, has turned his hand to one of the most iconic architectural monuments of Ancient Greece – The Acropolis!

The LEGO model displays the Acropolis both as it was in the fifth century BC and as it is today as one of Greece’s most popular tourist attractions. Captured in LEGO are some of the Acropolis’ more famous visitors including Pericles, Lord Elgin, Dame Agatha Christie, and even Elton John.

Also on display is the museum’s 19th century model of the acropolis, which captured the acropolis as it stood in 1895 in plaster.

Ryan’s awesome work will be on display through June of 2014, but if you can’t make it in person, be sure to check out the full set of photos over on Flickr.

Me with the LEGO Acropolis