Demystifying art part 1

Recently I have been reflecting on the differences and parallels between ancient and modern meanings of the word art.

The word was first used in Ancient Rome to mean practical skill and was derived an abbreviation of the Greek artizein meaning to prepare. The scope of this early definition covered everything from chariot driving to poetry as shown in Socrates discussion with Ion.

Another difference between the Greco-Roman and modern view on art is the belief in goddesses who guide artist. Admittedly there were only nine such goddesses but I suspect that if Hellenism had not been replaced by Christianity more would have been invented to fit with technological advancements.

If someone where to claim such a source of creativity in this day he will be mocked and pushed to the fringe of society. After all, anyone who has been to school has learnt to produce an appealing drawing by following simple rules such as perspective and negative space.

On the other hand the word art is now reserved for non-practical creations deemed important for reasons nobody can agree on.

An example in my home town.


The district council, an organisation nominally for administering roads, sewers and other utilities deemed it vitally important that these sculptures are given a prominent position on the main road. Apparently there is a symbolic meaning but I have no clue how to assess whether or not the sculptor was bluffing.

To be clear I am not calling for the elimination of all non-practical creations. I am calling for a demystification of art.
What this will entail and why I exactly I am comparing old Latin to modern English will have to leave for another article.

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