Few images occupy and polarise public discussion today as much as depictions of violence. Most scholars assume that depictions of violence mirror actual experience and social perceptions of violence, and that they contribute to stimulating aggression. Focussing on the countless depictions of violence on the painted pottery of Archaic and Classical Athens (war, myth, etc.), Susanne Muth tackles these propositions in a fascinating and groundbreaking study. For the first time in visual history the Athenians created an advanced imagery of violence and its effects can still be felt today. So as to analyse and interpret these images Susanne Muth introduces a model which relates representations of violence in new ways to historical interpretation. She investigates how the Athenians shaped and constantly reshaped the images of violence, and how they handled them. This close analysis enables her to argue for a new historical reading of the representations of violence. Her results open up a surprising dimension of Athenian mentality: The Athenian engagement with representations of violence in Archaic and Classical times was fundamentally different from how we handle violence and its reception in the (visual) media of western societies today.

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