Level V- Art Lesson 6: The Ancient Greek Trireme
Learn to Use Color, Line and the Art Deco Style To Suggest Speed and Power
The lesson is suitable for students in grade 7 through adult.
Art Lesson Description:
Could an ancient ship's design have helped create Western democratic governments? Chances are, the answer is YES! A small fleet of ancient Greek triremes—agile ships with three layers of oars and a metal-capped ramming beam on their prows—charged into a massive Persian fleet at the Battle of Salamis in 480 BC, destroying the Persian fleet and freeing Greece from Persian domination. Athens was free to rebuild, and the Greeks began their form of democratic government.
The Trireme Trust, a British organization that built a working trireme based on Greek descriptions of the ship, has provided us with pictures of their ship for our lesson. We combine the ship with information about how line, color, and the Art Deco style can create a sense of speed and power.
Students will draw a trireme, and then are given the following design tools to make their design of the ship seem as dynamic and powerful as possible:
- The language of lines,
- The use of warm and cool colors, and
- Inspiring examples from the Art Deco period.
This lesson includes both POWERPOINT and VIDEO versions of the lesson plus 2 downloadable printouts: a warmup and a drawing of the trireme.
List of Supplies for Each Student:
- 1 copy of the warm-up (this is included with the lesson)
- 1 sheet of 11" x 15" watercolor paper
- Watercolor pencils
- Small bottle or glass for rinsing water
- Set of brushes
- 2H drawing pencils
- White plastic eraser
- Masking tape
Suggestions for Cross-Curricular Connections:
- Watch a video about how the trireme was developed and how it was used in battle.
- Learn about other ancient Greek ships.
- The Trireme Trust has several links where you can learn more about the ship.
- Learn some names the Greeks used to name their triremes.
- Compare the dates of the Greek wars with Persia to events happening in Biblical history.
- The ramming prow of the trireme was covered with bronze. Learn about military weaspons of the Bronze Age in Greece. Did the Persian Wars occur during the Bronze Age?
- Visit the replica of the Parthenon in Nashville, TN, see the 46' tall statue of Athena, and learn more about Greek mythology.
- Read The Trojan War by
- Age of Bronze, Vol. 1: A Thousand Ships by
- Read Ethelwyn Lemon’s story Themistocles online.
- Read similar stories of Greek history online.
- Read the book Ancient Greece (DK Eyewitness Books) by Anne Pearson.
- Find young adult historical novels about ancient Greece at these sites:
- Listen to some well-told Greek myths from Greathall Productions.
Approximate Time to Complete the Art Class:
- Drawing the ship: 25 minutes
- Adjusting the style of the drawing: 20 minutes
- Coloring the drawing with watercolor pencils: 40 minutes
- Total time: 85 minutes