Date of Award

Spring 5-6-2022

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Classics, Philosophy, and Religion

Department Chair or Program Director

Romero, Joseph

First Advisor

Romero, Joseph

Major or Concentration



During the Third Reich (1933-1945), Hitler and the Nazis turned to the visual arts as a tool for propaganda to promote Hitler’s conception of the ideal people, i.e. the ‘Aryan’ race. Rooted in a calculate understanding of Greco-Roman civilization and culture, this conception of the ideal appropriated the visual vocabulary of the Classical period in Ancient Greece. Within the 1937 inaugural exhibition of the Große Deutsche Kunstausstellung, a propagandistic effort designed to promote this ideal, Arno Breker, chief sculptor of the Nazi Party, would exhibit his Prometheus. Breker’s interpretation of this mythological figure stood as a representation of ‘Aryan’ strength and power, and would thus be key in articulating and reinforcing the attitudes related to the body within the Third Reich. In order to create the ideal people, Hitler enacted policies and programs that would result in the systematic elimination of groups deemed ‘undesirable,’ such as people with disabilities. By adopting the aesthetics of the Greco-Roman tradition, Arno Breker’s weaponizes this visual vocabulary through Prometheus that clearly asserts the cultural attitudes of the human body designed to perpetuate this eugenic ideal.