Most of the time, artwork depicting ancient Greek gods and goddess is a beautiful and powerful representation of their strengths and stories. But sometimes an artist will miss the mark and make their paintings look less like “Greek God!” and more like “Eek! God!”
Let’s take a look.
Apollo and Marsyas
Apollo was the Greek god of music, poetry, art, and, apparently, being a creep. After challenging satyr Marsyas to a musical duel, Apollo stacked the judging deck with muses, won, and…
FLAYED HIS COMPETITOR.
Creep Level: Game of Thrones
The Abduction of Ganymede
Sure, future Greek hero Ganymedes may be getting kidnapped by Zeus (in the form of an eagle) in this painting, but look at that face.
No wonder you were kidnapped.
Creep Level: Baby Creep
Neptune and Amphitrite
Here we see Neptune, the Roman version of the Greek god Poseidon, and Amphitrite, the Greek version of the Roman goddess Salacia, surrounded by the ornaments of their sea kingdom. She’s got her arm around him but seems to be averting her eyes because…
…he’s looking at her like this!
He may be ripped but he’s got the steely glare of a subway catcaller. Plus his hands look like this:
Creep Level: Uncle you only see at Thanksgiving who always wants you to sit on his lap
In this sculpture, Dionysus, Greek god of wine and fertility, looks like the kind of guy who’s always asking if you bought your tickets to the gun show.
That’s the cocked hip of a man who likes his lovers like he likes his wine: abundant.
Creep Level: Tech bro whose family owns a winery
The Fight Between Mars and Minerva
Mars and Minerva are the Roman counterparts of the Greek gods Ares and Athena, and boy, did these two hate each other. Both gods of war, this painting shows Ares surrendering to Athena, the only warrior who could best him.
And he’s not happy about it.
Creep Level: Guy who pretends not to be pissed when his girlfriend beats him in a video game
Crowned by Apollo
Here’s another Apollo, in all his naked glory, crowning a frightening-looking male soprano named Pasqualini. And oh, look:
There’s Marsyas freaking out about his future flaying.
While Apollo just goes on about his day. Naked, did we mention?
Creep Level: Guys who man spread in towels
Athena Scorning the Advances of Hephaestus
In this painting, you can just tell the creepiness of Hephaestus, Greek god of blacksmiths and craftsmen, by looking at Athena’s face.
Get off me, bro! In many stories, Athena’s spurning of Hephaestus’ advances causes him to ejaculate on her leg, impregnating another woman. If that’s not creepy, nothing is.
Creep Level: Duh
Rape of Europa
You may think we added this painting by mistake. After all, it looks like there are no creepy Greek gods in this painting!
But look again!
The creepy eyes of that bull-devil are those of the mighty Zeus himself who, according to myth, changed himself into a bull to kidnap poor Europa.
Creep Level: Midnight
Thankfully, none of these creeps can jump out of the paintings and creep you out IRL. Probably. Best stay out of museums after dark, just in case…
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- College of Arts & Science. (2018). Athena Scorning the Advances of Hephaestus. https://maa.missouri.edu/media-gallery/detail/78/379
- Kren, E. (1996). Neptune and Amphitrite. https://www.wga.hu/html_m/g/gheyn/neptune.html
- Marx, D. (1996). Apollo and Marsyas. https://www.wga.hu/html_m/c/carpioni/marsyas.html
- Marx, D. (1996). The Combat of Mars and Minerva. https://www.wga.hu/html_m/d/david_j/1/103david.html
- The Met. (2000-2018). Marcantonio Pasqualini (1614–1691) Crowned by Apollo. https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/1981.317/
- Nguyen, M. (2006, September). The Dionysus of the Palazzo Altemps, Rome. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludovisi_Dionysus#/media/File:Dionysos_satyr_Altemps_Inv8606.jpg
- Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden. (2018, April 27th). The Rape of Ganymede. http://www.rembrandtdatabase.org/Rembrandt/painting/47377/the-rape-of-ganymede
- Titian. (2011). Rape of Europa, 1559-62 by Titian. http://www.titian.org/rape-of-europa.jsp