Prius Dominatus

A project honoring the ancient Greek contributions to modern democratic-style civilisation.

prius dominatus logo

In Latin, "Prius Dominatus" is "Before Domination". This project is a study of tyranny, defined literally as "the rule by fear", and the contrasting leadership styles of matriarchy and patriarchy. Set in a fictional classical period setting of a time in Hellenistic Greece just prior to the conquering by Rome.

Greek Photographer Photographs Acropolis

Greek Photographer Christosomos Kamberlis, Photographer and Travel Advisor from Trip and Trail (, travelled to the Acropolis in Athens, Greece to photograph the background view for PriusDominatus.

Acropolis at Dusk by Christosomos Kamberlis
'Acropolis at Dusk' by Christosomos Kamberlistwitter

LA Photographer Signs on to Project

photographer erik oginski
Photographer Erik Oginskitwitter

"Erik Oginski is a Los Angeles-based photographer whose work currently focuses mainly on editorial, events and street photography. Erik has a background in journalism and spent 13 years working in broadcast news before transitioning into marketing. Photography has played a significant role throughout his career and his work has been featured in international publications and media."

LA Model as Prostrate Female

evelyn maura
Model Maura Evelyn twitter

LA Model as Athena

karley blake as athena 4130
Model Karley Blake
(Makeup artist/Hair Stylist Brenna of Brenna Bones Artistry)

"Karley Blake is a model and actress from Los Angeles, CA. Her main focus is on art projects, but her portfolio also encompasses fashion, commercial, and editorial modeling. In her spare time, she volunteers and advocates for animal welfare."

PriusDominatus Progress

prostrate female
Oil Study of Maura Evelyn as 'prostrate female' from photo by Erik Oginski

Prostrate Female

The centerpiece of the composition and central figure is informally referred to as the 'prostrate female'. Both the name and languid pose denote stereotypical female vulnerability in extreme and dramatic gesture; inherent in and complimentary to; the diametric opposition displayed in this work's concept dynamic between male and female, matriarchy and patriarchy, as displayed by the two main characters of this piece. This figure, with bared neck, exposed midsection, and lack of firm or natural support and connection to the very ground beneath her, exemplifies a familiar female vantage constructed within a patriarchal society. This common stereotype and socio-economic construct, best exhibits a universally relatable concept: that of one human's domination over another. In the simplest and most extreme sense, this pose is instinctively evocative of one who has been removed of dignity, grace, and formality; it is extreme submission. This artistic rendering however, adds a twist.

Hellenistic funerary wall painting
Hellenistic funerary wall painting

In ancient classical painting, the male figure is always colored with a deep bronze skin-tone. This technique is most often exaggerated to make the skin coloring, as seen in surviving wall-paintings and tile mosaics from ancient Hellenistic Greece and Rome. Women are often painted using a series of light gray tones and are much more pale in comparison to a deep, reddish bronze coloring used to indicate males. This is a result of ancient tendencies toward sexual distinction both in everyday life and in art which is challenged by the foundational concept of PriusDominatus. The 'prostrate female' displays a posture of inherent weakness, while at the same time being colored in a tone usually reserved for males, who spent their days outdoors in the heat of the sun. She also has exaggerated musculature, especially in the thighs, as another indicator of strength to add to the paradox, and to challenge the ancient and modern stereotype, both in form and behaviour. The derivation and inspiration of the pose itself is also a affront to age-old assumptions about power.

Peter Paul Rubens. The Descent from the Cross (1617–18), (Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille)
Peter Paul Rubens. The Descent from the Cross (1617–18), (Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille)

The historical reference for this character is not only Hellenistic period Greek and Roman painting, but also a popular Renaissance convention. This pose is an interpretation of the religious theme popularized by the Catholic church known as 'Descent from the Cross', whereby Jesus is supported and cradled from the cross by a devoted group of his followers. Here, a more modern observation is revealed, and the female, the epitome of vulnerability and sacrifice, levitates unsupported- further challenging ancient assumptions of domination.

This levitation also references modern technological innovation, as the inevitibility of her salvation. She floats upwards bisected by a red laser beam, to re-enforce visually, the presumed harm to which she is subjected. This concept is taken directly from a little known theoretical spacecraft propulsion method called 'photonic propulsion'.

Photonic Propulsion on YouTube

In this method, a spacecraft is powered by a laser beam and solar panels. It is theorized that such a spacecraft would be lighter, needing no fuel storage, and traveling faster due to the nature of the medium, reaching Mars in just three days.

An actual NASA test in a lab on YouTube

In this metaphorical interpretation, skin and body surface area of the 'prostrate female' represent solar absorbtion material which generates power. The laser beam appears viscerally as a wound, but completes the power cycle of the metaphor when united with scientific understanding, raising this craft eventually above and beyond the looming power of tyranny and patriarchy as it is represented; the hope of all humankind.

Celtic Athena

athena study
Oil Study of Karley Blake as Celtic Athena from photo by Erik Oginski

In this version of Athena, one must concede that Greek civilisation discovered an increasing tolerance for violence through the Roman period, and may have been the cause for eventual Roman conquest. For this variation, Athena clings more to her legacy of wisdom than of war, holds the torch of freedom, and is companioned by an owl of wisdom. She remains un-armored, having no Gorgon shield bearing the decapitated head of snake-haired Medusa; leaning on no spear, and she holds the torch of freedom instead. The torch is referenced directly from the French Neoclassical Statue of Liberty. Not visible in this study, these new accoutrement, along with the traditional semi-transparent fabric of her tunic, and her high-wound sandals, combine to form a "Celtic Athena".

Celtic Athena represents a theory that before Gods were Gods, they were signposts to unite and welcome a global trade network of vastly differing and specific nationalities. As in ancient Rome, a sign for the Fishmonger, was simply a painted fish. This enabled muli-linguistic commerce directly, with no diplomat, translator, or intermediary faction present. The story of Athena, as springing from her father Zeus' forehead, may be cartographic prose, describing relative global positioning and location. It could be a detailed desciption of an important trading partner, easily remembered and transferrable through time and generations. In a similar light, Athena's owl companion is a symbol of wisdom, but it is also a regionally specific identifier honoring the great Norse shipbuilders.

The Tawny owl found in the southern region of Sweden, Norway, and Finland, in the great bay of the Baltic Sea, where ships, built on commission, and launched to sail around the globe in every nation's fleet, along the pre-ancient trade routes. In this day, not built for war, but for trade. The Tawny owl is perched upon the carved bow of a later-era Norse warship to further reinforce this regional connection. So in this version, Athena is a welcoming beacon of trade for Celtic peoples, and the Parthenon is a foreign embassy.

tawny owl
Tawny Owl

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