Hero worship in the ancient world was nothing like our own. Whereas we are quick to denounce athletes, politicians, and celebs with very human flaws, the Greeks had a different take. Theirs was a broader view that didn't require total moral excellence. Their concept of heroes and heroines was complicated, changeable, and perhaps more forgiving than our own.
What makes someone a hero or heroine? That's the context for this new exhibition of 90 exceptional artworks focusing on Archaic, Classical, and the Hellenic periods (6th-first century BC) at the Onassis Cultural Center in midtown Manhattan. "Heroes: Mortals and Myths in Ancient Greece" explores the Greek interpretation of heroism with decorated pottery, marble reliefs, bronze statues, and carved gemstones. As this intriguing show emphasizes, virtue was not necessarily a qualification to be considered a Greek hero or heroine. To us, the gods and heroes in the Greek myths were invented by poets and storytellers, but to the Greeks they were real people who lived, died, and in many cases transcended death as immortals.