Mythology has inspired countless generations of humanity for millennia, from the parent culture of a myth to cultures fairly removed in time, space and language. Poets, artists, historians and philosophers have interpreted the stories in many ways, and Greek and Roman myths in particular are rich in paradox and narrative wisdom that artists have also visually illustrated, often depicting the crux or dramatic climax of a story in close detail. Biblical material also provides a wealth of material for similar reinterpretations for artists or writers. Whether in language with figures like similes and metaphors, or in visual imagery from sculptures, mosaics, wall-paintings and other ancient media, retelling of mythology in parallel versions often borrow from each other and influence each other. For example, a wide range of artists including Dürer, Cranach, Rembrandt, Dore, Klimt, Waterhouse or anonymous ancient vase painters, mosaicists and sculptors reinterpret seminal texts of poets and thinkers such as Homer, Plato, Virgil, Ovid, Dante or biblical material.
Whether ancient or modern in its applications, Ekphrasis is an ancient Greek word that essentially has to do with literary versions inspiring visual artistic versions, or vice versa. Visual literacy can be as important as verbal literacy, and tracing these symbiotic influences and looking at their backgrounds are some of the primary foci of Myth and Art in Ekphrasis.