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The Sydney J. Freedberg Lecture on Italian Art 2008: To Live with Myths in Pompeii and Beyond

Paul Zanker, professor of art history, Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa. In this podcast, recorded on November 9, 2008, as part of the Sydney J. Freedberg Lecture on Italian Art series, Paul Zanker explains that for ancient Greeks, myths were stories of gods, heroes, and ordinary people who had religious authority. These stories and their artistic representations served as guides and models for living in varying circumstances. However, myths did not embody religious teaching or moral precepts for human behavior; these stories described fate-the highs and lows of being human-to which everyone could relate, and in which they could take comfort. Despite the cultural shifts of the Roman world, these ancient myths retained their purpose and impact in the art of Pompeii and other sites in Italy. This lecture coincided with the exhibition Pompeii and the Roman Villa: Art and Culture Around the Bay of Naples on view at the National Gallery of Art from October 19, 2008, to March 22, 2009.