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from the angles to the middle; it is centripetal, not centrifugal.
But the whole falls into groups as readily as does the Centaur
pediment. Zeus, the competitors, the chariots, the river-gods,
make in all seven groups. The rhythm here runs 14 2 12 4 1;
and side balances side accurately. The lines of gravity here
also meet at a point above Zeus.

And in addition to the order in the separate pediments, we
have a correspondence between one and the other, especially as
regards the apex and the corners ; only that in one pediment
we have parade-like repose, in the other strained action. To
modern critics of art the pediments of Olympia have been a
great disappointment — and certainly they have not the finish
and the charm of those of the Parthenon — but we must re-
member that they were meant to be looked at from a distance,
and that they are decorative rather than substantive sculpture.

The growth and decay of pedimental sculpture is very
characteristic. In the pediments of the sixth century, such as
those recently discovered among the wrecks left by the Persian
spoilers on the Athenian Acropolis, the corners of the pedi-
ments are occupied by the fish- or serpent-tails of fabulous
monsters. In the best work of the early fifth century, the
Aeginetan pediments, the whole composition is admirably bal-
anced, the centre being occupied by the figure of Athena and
the corners by wounded and dying men. Yet here it is single
figure that matches single figure : we may say that we have
rhythm, but no harmony; the correspondence of side to side
is too hard and mechanical. As the fifth century progresses,
and the great temples of Greece rise, this precise ponderation
gives place, in the pediments of Olympia to the balance of
group against group, and in the pediments of the Parthenon to


even more subtle rhythm, one seated and two reclining figures
balancing two seated and one reclining, male figures correspond-
ing to female figures, and so forth. Of the pediments of the
fourth century we have little exact knowledge; but if Pausauias
is to be trusted when he tells us that Praxiteles depicted in the
pediments of the temple of Herakles at Thebes the labours of
the hero, it would seem that within a century of the completion
of the Parthenon the art of choosing satisfactory subjects for
pediments had been lost, since a series of combats is a most
unsuitable theme for a pedimental composition. If it be
thought strange that so simple a condition as the triangular
form of the pediment should prove so trying to the Greek
sculptor, it should be observed that modern sculptors also have
tried their hands at pedimental compositions, and with very
moderate success. It would not be easy to find a pleasing
modern pediment. Of course the modern sculptor works at a
disadvantage, as the resources on which the Greek relied are
not open to him ; he cannot vary the size of his figures in ac-
cordance with their dignity, or fill the corners with reclining
river-gods. But even apart from these disadvantages, the
difficulties inherent in the form are very great.

(2) The metopes were originally the open spaces which
separated the beams supporting the roofs of temples ; but in
the perfected form of the temple they were square spaces
alternating with the triglyphs and running round the whole
of the temples of Dorian order. Sometimes, especially at the
ends of temples, they were sculptured. To the sculptural
decorator they offered series of spaces of the same size and
square shape to be adorned with reliefs which must needs
be bold and high, in order to be visible in recesses under the
roof and between the projecting triglyphs. The shape of the
field limited the compositions to two or three figures; and
the only suitable subjects were pairs of combatants, or dramatic


incidents confined to two or three actors. Such series as the
labours of Herakles, as in the metopes of the temple of Zeus
at Olympia (Fig. 25), or else the struggles of Theseus, com-
bats of Centaur and Lapith, of Greek and Amazon, of Gods
and Giants, naturally suggested themselves, and were re-
peated with what seems to us wearisome iteration from temple
to temple. The temples, in the adornment of which the greatest
originality w^as displayed, such as the Parthenon, furnish us
wuth a few other groups, such as scenes from the taking of
Ilium. In the case of this temple some scenes are spread over
two metopes ; but this was seen to be a mistake in method,
for it was of the essence of the metope to be a closed group.
Infinite diversity ranging within narrow limits of subject and
of composition w^as a thing which pleased and satisfied the
Greek artistic taste, not only in sculpture, but in all forms of
art and literature. The ponderation of the groups and their
planning so as to fill the space at disposal was a matter which
greatly attracted the Greek artist, and in which he attained an
unrivalled mastery. There are few metopes of the good age
which will not bear a severe artistic anatomy, a tracing out of
the lines of the composition, and its reduction almost to a mathe-
matical scheme. When we treat in chapter XI. of the compo-
sition of vase-paintings, we shall go farther into the principles
followed by the Greeks in the arrangement of simple groups.
(3) The frieze is by no means invariable on a Greek temple ;
in fact, the Parthenon is the only Doric temple on which there
is such a thing, though it was usual in the case of Ionic temples,
such as that of Athena Nike. The frieze was best adapted
to some continuous subject. Often the Greeks used it for the
representation of a battle, which could either be represented
in a continuous succession of groups of combatants or broken
up into a series of duels, as in the metopes. In some Greek
friezes, as in those from the Treasury of Cuidus at Delphi


Fig. 25. — Metopes of Olympia.


and those from the Heroon at Trysa, we have series of mytho-
logical scenes of various lengths and chosen very much at
random, like the series of paintings on early black-figured
vases. The one instance in which a supremely successful
result is attained in dealing with the conditions of the frieze
is of course the Panathenaic frieze of the Parthenon. The
spectator can follow the procession there depicted from its
start at the southwest corner of the building, as the pace
at first grows more rapid, till we reach the bounding chariots,
and then grows more sedate and stately as we approach the
spot where the sacrifice is prepared, and the gods wait to
receive their approaching votaries ; on Avhichever side of the
temple the visitor walks he wdll see the same order of pro-
cession, and receive the same impression. On one of the
tombs from Lycia of the early fifth century there is a proces-
sion of figures walking and riding in chariots, and on the
sarcophagi from Sidon we find depicted funereal cavalcades ;
but it must be allowed that Greek artists do not always
realize the possibilities offered them by the monuments they
are set to adorn, as regards subject. Their minds seem often
to be so set upon overcoming the difiiculties of the task by some
new arrangement of schemes, that they neglect the higher
possibilities. This is another form of the rhetorical tendency
of which I have spoken. The principles of balance are by
no means neglected by the Greeks, even in the continuous
representations of friezes. Any one who visits the Mausoleum
room at the British Museum may observe that it is possible
in that frieze sometimes to select a group and to discern how
on either side of it figure balances figure and attitude atti-
tude (Fig. 26).^ The same thing holds of the frieze of the

1 See especially the figures on either side of Series I., 8 and Series III., 3 in
Overbeck's representation of the frieze in Ed. IV. of his History of Sculpture,
or Alte Denkmdler, II., PI. 16.











monument of Lysicrates at Athens. There the figure of Dio-
nysus with his panther is central, and if we move from this
central group to right and left, we shall find an extraordinary
balance of satyr against satyr and pirate against x)irate.
But perhaps the most remarkable example of balance in a
frieze which has come down to us is the battle scene from the
Alexander sarcophagus at Sidon. This is further considered
in chapter VIII.

Other works of decorative art, not connected with temples
and tombs, are composed with careful reference to spatial con-
siderations. This part of our subject, however, is better treated
of under the head of painting, as we can best illustrate it from
the designs of Greek vases.

There are, however, a few conventions belonging especially
to sculptural groups and reliefs which may here be mentioned.

Isoceplialism is the convention whereby in a continuous relief
the heads of the persons portrayed are kept as far as possible
on a level, whether they be seated, or on horseback, or stand-
ing. This, of course, is not a hard and mechanical rule, but
rather a tendency. The frieze of the Parthenon will supply
abundant examples : the heads of the horsemen, the charioteers,
the walkers, and the seated deities are almost on a level.

The heads of seated and of standing figures could be thus
placed at the same level only by making the former of larger
stature. And this brings us to another sculptural convention,
that of adaptation of stature to dignity. In groups, whether
in the round or in relief, it is usual to represent the figure of
greater importance or dignity on a larger scale. Gods are repre-
sented as taller than mortals, kings than their subjects, freemen
than slaves, and human beings in comparison with animals such
as horses or oxen are represented in somewhat more than their
actual proportions. It is a result of the idealist spirit which
pervades Greek art and makes the artist regard ideal or moral


truth as more important than precise correspondence with vis-
ible fact. It is evident that this particular invention was of
especial value in the composition of pediments, in which the
most important figures would naturally be placed in the midst/
where the form of the pediment allowed of greater height.

That colour is of the very essence of Greek architecture we
have already seen. And as the decoration of Greek temples con-
sisted not merely in painted ornament, but also largely in panels
filled with sculptured reliefs, it is quite natural that colour
should have been used largely in these reliefs ; otherwise they
would have failed to correspond to their environment. Greek
substantive sculpture, as we shall see, was painted ; but in deco-
rative sculpture colour was far more necessary and universal.
In temples the backgrounds of pediment, metope, and frieze
were painted of some uniform colour, against which the figures
of the relief stood out. And these, also, were tinted or painted
almost throughout, while accessories such as armour, horse-
trappings, and the like were added in bronze or other metal, so
that the whole must have produced a variegated and vivid effect.
This is no matter of mere conjecture : a careful examination of
the temple sculpture found at Aegina, Olympia, and other sites
has always resulted in the discovery of considerable remains

of colour.

For example. Professor Brunn's examination of the figures of
the Aeginetan pediments at Munich showed that while the
naked bodies of the fighting warriors were only tinted and
thrown up by a dark red background, the garments and
armour were strongly coloured. The peplos and sandals of
Athena were painted red; the helmets of the warriors were
blue, with red crests. Eyes, lips, and hair of all figures were
painted, and traces of red on some of the bodies seem to have



represented blood flowing from tlie wounds. Little holes in
the marble show where sword-belts and ornaments of the hel-
mets in bronze were fastened.

'' Careful examination of the sculpture of the temple of Zeus
at Olympia led to similar discoveries. The background of the
metope representing Heracles struggling with a bull (Fig. 25)
was coloured blue, the bull's body brown, the background of
the metope representing the slaying of the Lernaean hydra
was red, the hydra itself blue. The hair, lips, and eyes of Her-
acles were coloured. In case of the pediments, though few
traces of colour remained, yet the rudimentary way in which
the hair and beards of the figures were worked out by the
chisel proved that much had been left for the brush to make
clear and emphatic.

The fact that Greek decorative sculpture was painted has
been made more familiar to modern students from their seeing
the remains of the archaic temples of Athens now carefully
preserved in the Acropolis Museum. The monstrous male head
with blue beard and green eyes which comes from an early lime-
stone pediment, the variegated bodies of Triton and of the bull
pulled down by two lions, have become familiar to us and given us
a vivid notion of the strong and even crude colouring of the early
limestone sculpture of Athens. Two things are made clear to
us: first that the colours thus used were few and simple, bright
hard red and blue principally ; and second, that in their use
the guiding principle was not the imitation of nature, but the
production of a decorative design. Blue hair, red eyes, oxen
striped with green, are no exceptional occurrences.

We find, as might be expected, that in later and more taste-
ful ages early crude colouring gives way to painting at once less
glaring and more in accordance with natural appearances. I
have already spoken of the temple sculptures of Aegina and
Olympia. But if we would see the colouring of decorative


sculpture at its best, we must turn to the beautiful sarcophagi
from Siclon now preserved at Constantinople.^ On the great
sarcophagus on which one of Alexander's victories is de-
picted (Fig. 30) everything is coloured — the background, the
dress and arms of the warriors, their hair and eyes, even the
bodies of horses and men. But all is softened and subdued,
and although a decorative effect is aimed at, yet there is no
clashing with natural appearances. Dresses are of bright and
varied colour ; but the blue colour of steel, the reddish brown
of hair, the tints of flesh, are carefully and naturally ren-
dered. And the painter has succeeded by some process in so
laying on his colour that it does not conceal the transparent
shine of the marble, but mingles with it.

As regards substantive sculpture, our evidence is less complete
and definite. From the evidence of the archaic female figures
found on the Athenian Acropolis we know that in the days
before the Persian wars statues dedicated to the gods were
coloured almost as fully as the pedimental figures of which I
have spoken, and on similar decorative principles. The female
figures dedicated to Athena still retain much of their colouring,
and we can follow the bright patterns with which the borders
of their garments were adorned, as well as the painting of their
eyes and hair and other parts." There can be little doubt that
in the course of the fifth century, as sculpture became more
masterly, it left less and less to painting, and that the colours
used in painting statues became less hard. Yet since we are
told that the eminent painter Nicias was employed to tint the
statues of Praxiteles, we may be sure that even in the fourth
century statues were not uncoloured. The evidence to be

1 These are admirably reproduced, partly in colour, in the work of Hamdy
Bey and T. Reinach, Une necropole royale a Siclon.

2 See Collignon's Histoire cle la Sculpture grecqite^ Frontispiece ; also a
coloured facsimile in the Ashmolean Museum.



gained from existing statues is scarcely conclusive.^ Many
experiments have been made in the endeavour by colouring
casts to reproduce the aspect of original Greek statues, espe-
cially by Dr. Treu in the Albertinum at Dresden. But such
attempts are seldom or never quite successful, in part per-
haps because it is impossible to give to casts anything like the
warm transparent surface of marble, and a layer of colour on
them is opaque and dead, whereas the colour on the marble
sarcophagi from Sidon seems to be semi-transparent.

Perhaps the best notion of the colouring of Greek statues in
the fourth century may be gained from an examination of the
charming statuettes discovered in recent years in great numbers
at Tanagra in Boeotia. AVhen found these statuettes are as
bright as spring flowers, and although some of their freshness
disappears on exposure to the air, yet enough remains to give
us a hint of the appearance which a gallery of sculpture would
have produced in the later age of Greece.

1 See, however, the head of Athena in Antike Denkmdler, Vol. I., 3, and
the British Museum head in the Jahrhuch des Arch. Inst., 1899, PL 1.



The Greeks, as has been well observed by Brunn, proceeded
in art as in their written literature. They borrowed from the
Phoenicians and other peoples the letters of the alphabet, but
they used these letters to express their own ideas in their own
language, and according to the rules of their own grammar.
Similarly, they began their artistic activity by borrowing from
the nations around them, or it may be from the primitive
dwellers in their own country, certain simple forms — the
human, the forms of animals and monsters and plants. For
a long while they did not from the technical point of view
improve on these, but they used them almost from the first to
embody their own notions of decoration, their own religious
beliefs, and the tales of their ancestral heroes.

The growth of Greek sculpture from such simj^le and rude
sketches of the human figure as are common to most nations
would of course have been impossible without a close and lov-
ing observation of nature. But the Greeks were determined
to see with their own eyes. Other peoples of very inferior
artistic capacity, the Etruscans for instance, were more apt in
copying the careful and stylish representations brought to them
in the way of commerce by the Phoenicians. But the Greeks,
instead of travelling in the facile ways of the imitator, seem
from the first to have hammered out a style of their own.
The early figures of Apollo and of athletes, with which Greek



sculpture begins, are rudely cut, of simple and even repulsive
aspect. Their great merit lies in their independence. Eude
as they are, they cannot be confused with the productions of
any other people.

No doubt the representation of men and women in Greek art
rested upon a solid natural base ; namely, the beauty of Greek
men and women. Into the causes of this beauty we cannot go;
it was partly the result of favourable natural surroundings,
such as climate, partly of good social habits, partly it w^as a
racial character. The divine Providence gave to the Greeks
this inestimable gift. In the case of the men, the beauty is
more easily understood, since they led free and healthy lives
and daily practised in the baths and gymnasia. But how the
Greek women acquired and maintained the astonishing beauty
which we see in Aphrodite and Hera it is difficult to under-
stand ; certainly they led secluded and inactive lives.

It is beyond doubt the close relation maintained between
Greek sculpture and athletic sports which lies at the root of
its excellence. Some writers have dwelt much on the religious
character of the Greek games, — and of course they were culti-
vated in connection wdth the great shrines of Greece, and were
a part of the festivals in honour of the national deities, Zeus,
Apollo, Poseidon, and others, — but to speak of the religious
character of the Greek games is something of an inversion, and
conveys a false notion to a modern reader. For it was the
intense conviction of the value to man of such strength and
beauty as were promoted by the games which procured them
the patronage of the gods who represented the state and the
race. Religion has in modern days been confined to certain
fields of human activity — the spiritual side of man as con-
trasted with his more material side. But Greek religion,



which in depth could not compare with that of modern times,
covered a wider field, and every power and aptitude of man,
and indeed every form of enjoyment, was regarded as under
the patronage of the gods and as pleasing in their eyes.

Greek athletics differed from those of modern days espe-
cially in three ways. In the first place, they were more gen-
erally practised. Probably almost every young man who was
not deformed in body or of servile station occupied some of
the best hours of the day in the exercises of the palaestra.
Secondly, the Greek athletes practised and competed stark
naked, and it needs but a moment's thought to realize the
advantage which the sculptor would derive from the observa-
tion of so many fresh young bodies in every attitude of strain
and conflict. Thirdly, in Greek athletics great attention was
paid not merely to results achieved, but to style in perform-
ance. The exercises took place rhythmically, to the sound of
the flute, and grace of action was quite as much admired as
mere force. In modern athletics, on the other hand, results
only are considered.

Setting aside mere difficulties in execution and technique, of
which I have already briefly treated and which could be con-
quered only by practice and application, let us turn rather to
the psychological side of Greek sculpture, and try to discern
what ideas and purposes inspired the sculptor. What did he
try to accomplish by means of his assiduous study of the
human frame ; to what ideas did he try to give an outward
and visible expression ? AVe must successively consider secu-
lar and religious art, the representations of human beings and
of the gods.

The Greek sculptor or painter, who spent a great part of his
time in watching the exercises of men, in seeing the most per-


fectly made of the youths strained in every pose of running,
discus-throwing, and wrestling, would start with such a know-
ledge of the beauties of the human form as a modern artist can-
not acquire. But he was not satisfied with the mere athlete of
every day. He sought the type through selection from the
particular. He studied many athletes, and by a process of
selection and abstraction found among them his ideal, or rather
several ideals. For it is evident that the boxer, the discus-
thrower, and the runner would be of very various build and
development. ' For some exercises strength and hardihood
were essential, for some suppleness, for some a particular build
of limb. It has been too much the custom for those who have
written on Greek sculpture to set down a statue as an athlete
of this or that sculptural school; but the word athlete is far
too vague ; archaeologists ought to decide whether the statue
is of a boxer, a pentathlos, a short-distance runner, and the like.
Such distinctions clearly involve some detailed knowledge of
training for modern athletic sports, and are Avorthy of careful

Professor Briicke of Vienna has pointed out in an admirable
work^ how especially beautiful details in the human body,
found but rarely in nature, are common in Greek sculpture, and
how when a particular formation of a muscle or a limb was
recognized as the best, it was preserved through generations of
sculptors. There was a continuity of tradition. Myron first
showed how to balance the body in strong motion, Polycleitus
perfected the representation of the trunk, Scopas the treatment
of eye and brow, and so forth.

It has been objected that by putting together the excellences
of various subjects one could only produce monsters, since na-
ture works out each body on a consistent plan. This objection

1 See above, chapter II.

2 The Human Figure, Translated by W. Anderson.


holds good if the outward beauties be mechanically copied.
But if the artist has the power to go deeper, to see how na-
ture works, and to enter into her spirit, he may succeed in pro-
ducing not a monster but an ideal, free from the defects which
mark every individual figure. Nature, if one may venture to

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