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quence of the views of Stesichorus ; ^ but when on some vases
the companions of Odysseus, whom Circe had bewitched, ap-
pear as men with the heads of animals, and on others in com-
plete animal form, this variety is not held to denote connection
with two different sets of legends. There are many ways in
which the metamorphosis of a human being into a plant or an
animal is depicted. On the monument of Lysicrates, the
pirates who were turned into dolphins appear as half men and
half fish. But Daphne, who became a laurel, appears in Pom-
peian paintings as human, with laurel sprays springing from
head and shoulders. And Thetis in her transformations retains
the hiuuan shape, while the animals into which she transforms
herself appear beside her (Fig. 58). Artistic custom thus vary-
ing, there is no sufficient proof of the influence on the metope
of Selinus of the writings of Stesichorus.

At a previous page (Fig. 35) I have figured an interesting
vase-painting representing the descent of Theseus into the sea,
to the court of Poseidon, to bring back the ring of Minos. This
story does not seem to have been known to the epic. Pro-
fessor Robert discussed it- in 1889, and was then disposed to
consider the story of the love of Minos for Periboea and the
throwing of the ring into the sea as due to the play of Theseus
by Euripides, and taken thence by the painter. But a new
light has been thrown upon the subject by the discovery of
fragments of Bacchylides, in which the tale is given, and it
might now appear that it was Bacchylides who was the source.
But this can only be a conjecture ; it is very likely that this
poet only gives form to floating Attic legends. All the Theseus

1 Bild und Lied, p. 26.

2 In the Arch. Anzeiger, 1889, p. 141.


tales gain fresh popularity at Athens somewhat before the mid-
dle of the fifth century. At any rate, the mistaken view as to
the debt of the vase-painter to Euripides should be a warning,
and prevent us from quickly accepting a new hypothesis which
may be based, like the previous one, on the mere absence of

As to the third kind of influence, which shows itself merely
in tone and treatment, one cannot speak positively. It is Otto
Jahn who laid stress on the lyric tone or background some-
times to be observed in works of Greek art. He sj^eaks of the
sculptors oi pathos — Scopas, Praxiteles, and the like — as offer-
ing us something parallel to lyric poetry. But these artists
were not contemporary with the great lyric age of Greece,
and the parallelism is by no means clear. In any case, we can
scarcely carry the \dew further, to include works of so unam-
bitious a class as vase-paintings.

Tragedy. — We come finally to the dramatic writings of the
great Athenian poets of the fifth century. How far did
Aeschylus or Euripides influence vase-painting ?

Subjects. — It can easily be shown that the choice of subjects
by vase-painters is often determined by the existence of well-
known tragedies which dealt with particular myths. We have
reason to think that the Orestes trilogy of Aeschylus and the
tragedies of Euripides were especially popular and often acted
in the Hellenistic age. The subject of the fate of Orestes and
those dealt with in many of the plays of Euripides are de-
cidedly common on the late vases of Lower Italy, but not on
the Athenian vases of the fifth century. Thus it would seem
that the Greek drama exercised this kind of influence much
more one or two centuries after the great age of the drama
than it did at the time. We shall find examples as we go on.



]^>ut the influence is more often to bo observed in the mere
choice of theme than in the way in which the theme is worked


Manner of TrmtmenL— Wow far the manner of tragedy
influenced art is a question which lias been a good deal dis-
cussed. In my opinion, if the grammar of Greek art had Ijeen
better understood, much of this discussion would not have
arisen. It has in fact often sprung from tlie predominance in
those who have written about ancient art of a literary training,
which has induced them to think that the masterpieces of
tragedy exercised in Greece at the time of their production an
influence far wider and more general than actually existed.
On careful consideration I cannot find that much is to be
gained by an attempt like that of Jahn to set apart sculptural
or painted groups as in general character related to tragedy.
He mentions as such the celeljrated group of the Tyrannicides,
Harmodius and Aristogeiton, copies of which are in the
Naples Museum, statues in which, as he says, the sculptor put
before himself the task of representing a deed at a pregnant
moment in an ethical light. Perhaps we may more safely
insist on the dramatic character of such compositions as those
of the Parthenon pediments, where the interest rises, so to
speak, to a culmination in the midst of the pediment, where
Athena is being born or winning her triumph over Poseidon.
Here we seem to have the dramatic action of groups, while the
other figures in the pediments are i^resent like the spectators,
or indeed more like the chorus in a theatre. Yet even in
this case it is rather a dramatic tendency in sculpture which
makes itself felt than an examj^le of the influence of the great
tragic poets of Athens. Why should not sculpture be dramatic
as well as literature ?

It would seem to us to be almost inevitable, since some of
the best vases were produced at Athens during the time when


tlie drama was most flourishing, that we should be able to trace
in their designs the influence of the great dramatic poets. That
the vase-painters should transfer to their paintings something
of what met their eyes every year at the great Dionysiac festi-
vals would seem the most natural proceeding possible. But the
expected does not always happen. It is agreed by most archae-
ologists who have written on the subject that it is not possible
to discover on vases of the fifth century any instance of direct
borrowing of situation or event from theatrical representation.
This fact can only be explained by the consideration that alike
vase-painting and stage acting were under the dominion of a
number of traditions which kept the two arts rigidly apart.
The tragic actor with his mask, his trailing robes, and high
buskins, when off the stage, as the Greeks themselves allowed,
cut a ridiculous figure ; and, as a matter of fact, he does not
make his way into art until near the Roman age. And if the
tragedian was obliged to modify time-honoured traditions in
order to limit the number of characters on the stage to three,
there could be no reason why the vase-painter should slavishly
follow his leading in this matter.

It is no doubt exceedingly tempting, when one finds on a
vase of the fifth century a scene which we know to have also
appeared on the contemporary stage, to bring the two together.
Many able writerSj including even Brunn, have been unable to
resist the temptation ; and hence have arisen many conjectures
as to the line taken in lost plays of the great dramatists, or as
to variant traditions which have influenced poet and painter.
But in the arena of archaeological discussion none of these
views has held its own, and Professor Robert, after a careful
discussion, has rejected them all. In fact, the method is faulty,
as will appear from our brief exposition above of the inde-
pendence of vase-painters of the influence of contemporary


The only influence whicli can be traced on contemporary
art is an indirect one, I have above spoken of the messenger
scheme and the chorus scheme (chapter XII.). As these both
become more frequent on vases towards the middle of the fifth
century, we may, perhaps, see here a contemporary reflection
of the popularity of those schemes on the stage, where they are
indeed indispensable.

But in the vases produced in the fourth and third centuries
in the south of Italy, and especially at Tarentum, we can some-
times trace the influence exerted by the great Attic drama upon
the pictorial rendering of scenes from the lives of heroes. This
may be seen especially in two examples. The story of Orestes,
scenes from which are not infrequent on Italian vases, takes
colour from the great trilogy of Aeschylus, and the dramas of
Euripides largely affect the art-representations of the myths
treated by him. That the Attic treatment of these subjects
became familiar to the Italian vase-painters was no doubt
mainly due to the wanderings in Italy, after the time of
Alexander the Great, of troops of actors, Dionysiac artists
as they were called, who carried from city to city their reper-
tory of plays, consisting largely of the works of Euripides.

Of the appearance on vases of the late Italian class of certain
kinds of persons familiar to readers of the Euripidean tragedy
— the deus ex machina, the ghost, the pedagogue, and the
nurse — I will give an example or two.

Two vases, one at Berlin and one at Ronie,^ give us an un-
familiar version of the fate of Antigone. She is brought as a
prisoner before Creon by a guard; but Herakles intervenes
between her and condemnation. It is possible that in the lost
Antigone of Euripides, Herakles may at the crisis have appeared
ex machina; but it may be that some merely traditional version
of the story is followed. On one of the vases Herakles is

1 Archdol. Zeitunc/, 1871, PI. 40.


standing in a temple or shrine. A shrine in the background is
in this class of vases a common feature ; but it has nothing to
do with the dramatic stage. One suspects therefore that the
connection between these vase-paintings and the drama is not
close. Of the Antigone of Sophocles no influence is to be

On vases which represent the crime of Medea ^ we find
sometimes the ghost of Aietes ; and the pedagogue in charge
of the children is sometimes present, as he is in the Florence
sculptural group of the destruction of the children of Niobe.
A nurse is often present in late vase-pictures to attend either
on ladies of rank or on children. Thus on a vase which repre-
sents Telephus in the palace of Agamemnon threatening the
life of the young Orestes,- a nurse is present. It has been
conjectured that this vase-painting may have some relation to
the play of Euripides on the theme of Telephus.

But even when we allow the influence upon later vase-
paintings of certain Attic tragedies, we must be careful to
observe that it is the plot rather than the staging which had
an effect. Archaeologists, in commenting on the points of
connection between the two, have often been ready to forget
the great gulf which lies between ancient and modern stage-
production. The costume worn by all the actors on the Greek
stage to the very end was specially planned by its great
inventor, Aeschylus, to remove them from likeness to ordinary
men and women. The mask was invariable, and it was frankly
a mask, no close imitation of a face. The long, bright-coloured
robes of the personages, and their high buskins, must have
made any rapid movement as impossible as was facial play.
The plays were recited rather than acted on the stage, and the
great qualifications of the actor (actresses of course being

1 Such as Archaol. Zeitung, 1847, PI. 3.
^ Ibid., 1851, PI. 106.


unknown) were a loud and clear voice and a correct pro-
nunciation. It is easy to understand that vase-painters
would rather represent scenes even of the Medea or the Hip-
polytus in their own way than in the way adopted on the

I do not propose here to treat in detail of the vase-paintings
of Lower Italy which may be regarded as parallel to the Orestes
trilogy of Aeschylus and the dramas of Euripides. All the
most important examples are engraved in a work so easily
accessible as Baumeister's Denkmliler under their respective
headings. In Vogel's Scenen Euripideischer Tragoclien in
griechischen Vasengemdldeyi will be found full lists of such
vases, and each painting is compared with the play on the
same subject. In Mr. Huddilston's Greek Tragedy m the Light
of Vase-jxtintings the reader will find much useful information.
I will only take as examples of method two vases : one to
show how closely in a few rare instances the vase-painter will
come to the text of the play, and one to show how strongly in
the great majority of cases he preserves his independence.

First, then, I represent a scene from a late and poor vase at
St. Petersburg (Fig. 79).^ We here see Orestes in the temple
at Delphi, clinging to the omphalos, with the naked sword in
his hand. Before the temple lie the Erinnyes sleeping, repre-
sented as hideous women in hunting dress, without wings or
snakes. To the right a female figure, identified as the priestess
by the great temple-key which she carries, flies in terror at the
sight. The closeness of the situation to that which occurs at
the beginning of Aeschylus' Eumenides, where the priestess

1 First published by Stephani, Comptes rendus, 1863, PL VI., 3-5, from the
Campaua collection. On the other side of the vase are a satyr and a maenad
standing by a krater.




comes forth from the stage door, which represents the door of
the temple, and tells what she has seen, will occur to every
one who has read Aeschylus. But after all the likeness is to
the play, not to the acting of it. Orestes and the priestess are
not clad in mask and flowing drapery and buskins, as they
would be on the stage. And the temple would certainly not

Fig. 79. — Vase at St. Petersburg.

be thus erected on the stage : the front of it would be merely
the front of the stage building.^ The Erinnyes are a reminis-
cence of the description by the priestess in Eumenides, 52-55.
She speaks of them first as women, then as Gorgons, and yet
not quite like Gorgons, but rather like the Harpies in pictures
bearing off the food of Phineus, yet differing from Harpies in
not being winged, though black and hideous.

1 Journal of Hellenic Studies, XIX., 257-262.


Now before the time of Aeschylus the Eriniiyes had not
thus been represented, but as staid and venerable deities, clad
in long robes, carrying serpents,^ three in number, as were usu-
ally the groups of nymphs and maiden deities at Athens.
Aeschylus innovated by increasing their number, and by giv-
ing them a foul and hideous aspect, and he succeeded so well
in this latter respect that he is said to have produced a panic
in the theatre. In both these respects our vase-painter follows
the Aeschylean stage tradition rather than the older type, and
we may see by this instance that the nearer a vase-painter
comes to actual illustration of a poet the less interesting does
he become.

In some of the Orestean vase-paintings the Erinnyes are rep-
resented as winged. They seem thus to have been brought on
the stage by Euripides ; but in fact this was a reversion to an
older notion, the Gorgons, Harpies, and other unpropitious
daeinons being generally represented in early art with wings.

Very different is the other vase-painting which I figure -
(Fig. 80). Here we have a subject which is probably taken
from a play of Euripides, the Iphigeneia in Tauris, but in the
treatment there is nothing to suggest such a derivation. In tlie
background, that is, according to early perspective, at the top of
the picture, we see the Tauric Artemis and her temple ; beside
her sits her brother Apollo. In the foreground is a laurel tree
and an altar ; Orestes sits on the altar and Pylades stands beside
him, while Iphigeneia, holding a knife for the sacrifice, ap-
proaches the altar, accompanied by an attendant, who carries
on her head the other things necessary for the sacrifice. It is
evident that the subject is the preparation for the sacrifice of
Orestes and his companion to Artemis, but the sacrifice is but

1 For example, a dedication at Argos, Athen. Mittheil., IV., 9.
- From a Ruvo vase in the Naples Museum. Published in Mon. d. Inst.,


hinted at. There is no action, still less any flavour of tragic
treatment. The gods in the background are a regular feature
of this kind of vase.

From first to last, speaking broadly, the vase-painter is true
to the principles of his vocation, and follows the lines of his
art without wavering.

We may find a reflection, not indeed of the Euripidean stage,
but of Euripidean poetry, in some of the wall-paintings of
Pompeii. One of the most noted of these ^ represents Orestes
and Pylades brought as captives before King Thoas in Tauris,
while Iphigeneia stands in the background, at the door of her
temple, holding in her hands the image of Artemis. There is
something in the simplicity of the grouping and the pathos of
the expression which suggests that it may be a copy of, or
suggested by, the work of a painter of an earlier age. What
it represents is not primarily a scene from the drama of
Euripides, but a situation. The capture of the two friends,
their condemnation by Thoas, their deliverance by Iphigeneia,
even the carrying away of the image to Greece, — all is hinted
at in the painting ; but there is no suggestion of acting, or of
the stage. Perhaps still more closely related to Euripidean
ideas and poetry is the figure of Medea holding the sword and
meditating the slaying of her children, which we find in more
than one example at Pompeii. Sometimes the figure of Medea
is detached from its connection and stands as an epitome of a
tragic situation.^ No figure of antiquity has come down to us
which is fuller of expression. As a late Greek painter, Timo-
machus, is known to have painted a noted picture of Medea, it
is not out of the way to suppose that he is the originator of
the Medea of the Pompeian paintings, though of course the
Pompeian artist greatly vulgarizes what he copies.


2 Museo Borhonico, V., 33; VIII., 22; X., 21.


When we pass to a still later class of monuments than the
vase-paintings of Calabria and the wall-paintings of Pompeii,
namely, to the Eoman sarcophagi, we certainly find frequent
treatment of the subjects adopted by Aeschylus and Euripides.
The great dramatists had given form and currency to certain
myths, which thus became interesting to Koman poets and
mythographers. And they became familiar also to the second-
rate sculptors who made sarcophagi for wealthy Romans. But
it was the tale as current in literature, not the play as acted
on the stage, which influenced these sculptors. We find no
reminiscence of the mask or the flowing tragic robes. What
we do find is something much nearer to illustration, in the
modern sense of the word; though the crowding of successive
events of the drama into a single field of the sarcophagus,
involving the method of continuous narration, of wdiich I have
spoken above, is a thing foreign to modern art. Several sar-
cophagi, for example, give us a series of scenes from the story of
Orestes. In the case of one^ we find on the side a representa-
tion of the slaying of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, with the
Eumenides in the background, while on one end we have the
acquittal of Orestes by Athena, on the other Orestes and
Pylades in Tauris. Here, at all events, the fashion of the
Eumenides and the i)resence of Athena are due to the influence
of Aeschylus. But they have clearly by this time become
part of the myth, and there is no direct relation to the drama.

I do not propose to carry the history of the relations between
poem and painting down to the poems of the Hellenistic or the
Eoman age. There is undoubtedly a parallelism, for it must
rather be so termed than spoken of as a connection, between
the poems of the Alexandrian w^riters, Theocritus, Apollonius
1 Robert, Die antiken Sarkophag-Reliefs, PI. LV. Cf . PI. LIV.


Rhoclius, Callimaclius, and their contemporaries, together with
the Roman writers of the Augustan age, who owe so much to
them, and the abundant wall-paintings of Pompeii and Rome.
Both alike are dominated by the influence of Alexandria and
the other great urban centres of the Hellenistic world. Both
alike reflect the character of that world, in playful treatment
of the myths of gods and heroes, in a more sentimental regard
for women, in a growing appreciation and love of natural
scenery, and in many other respects. It is impossible, without
good representations of several of the paintings, to go into fur-
ther detail as to the manner in which they embody the ideas of
the Hellenistic age. The best book on the subject remains,
after many years. Dr. Helbig's CamjxtniscJie Wandmalerei ;
an English book on the subject is greatly needed.



Fully to illustrate the relations between poem and picture
we ought to choose some subject which is a common theme of
both, and trace it from period to period in each. Unfortu-
nately no thoroughly satisfactory subject can be found. The
favourite themes of art are taken from the cyclic poets, not
from the Iliad or Odyssey, and not from the fortunes of the
houses of Oedipus and Atreus, which furnish a subject to so
many tragedies. Under these circumstances the best thing
to do is to select a subject which is well illustrated in all
periods of art, even if it be but slightly treated in literature,
or if the Greek poems of which it was the theme have been

I propose to take one of the most favourite subjects with
vase-painters of all periods, the judgment of Paris. The thing
which will most clearly appear in our investigation is the
futility of taking vase-pictures one by one and trying to explain
their features by direct reference to myth or to poem. This is
a parallel error to that of which I spoke when discussing
sculpture, — the direct comparison of a statue with nature in dis-
regard of the influence of style and school. We shall also find
that the whole series of representations of the myth selected
is an orderly development, following psychological law, and
reflecting in a minute mirror the course of Greek literary and
artistic growth and decline.



The main points in the literary history of the tale may be
speedily sketched. In the Iliad (XXIV., 25) we find mention
made of the anger cherished against Paris by Hera and Athena,
" in that he condemned those goddesses, when they came to his
steading, and preferred her who brought to him deadly lustful-
ness." Some authorities consider these words as an interpola-
tion, the source of which may be found in the Cypria, where
was related, according to tlie summary of Proclus, how "A
dispute arose at the wedding of Peleus on the subject of beauty
between Athena, Hera, and Aphrodite, who are led by Hermes,
at Zeus' command, to Paris in Ida, who is to decide it. Paris
prefers Ax)hrodite, on her promising him Helen as a bride."

We have here nothing about the offering of gifts by the
other goddesses, nor do we hear of the apple of Eris ; these
features come later into literature, as we shall see.

In four plays of Euripides mention is made of the judgment
of Paris. In the Iphigeneia in Aiilis (1. 1289) the Chorus
speaks of the coming of the three goddesses, under the leading
of Hermes, to Paris in IVIount Ida, and each of the three is
spoken of as relying not on a bribe, but on her exalted function —
Hera on her queenly position, Pallas on her Avarlike power.
Aphrodite on her mastery of love. In the Helena, Helen
(1. 18) speaks of the goddesses as vying in beauty. But in the
Troades (1. 920) Euripides adopts an innovating version of the
myth, representing each goddess as trying to win the judge with
gifts. Pallas promises that at the head of his Phrygians he
shall conquer Greece; Hera that he shall have a wide kingdom
in Asia and Europe; while Aphrodite promises the person of
Helen. In a fourth play, the Andromache (1. 275), the Chorus
dwells on the preparation of the goddesses for the judgment
by washings in the springs of Ida.

There was a satyric play of Sophocles called The Judgment,
in which Paris is introduced as deciding between Aphrodite


and Athena, Hera being absent, perhaps because only three
actors could be on the stage at once. The play seems to have

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