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say so, in every case fails fully to reach the perfection at which
she aims. The artist who can see the pattern according to
Avhich she worked may succeed in embodying it more perfectly
in bronze or marble than it is embodied in flesh and blood.
Such an artist would combine idealism with what I have above ^
called the higher naturalism.

The views which I have been stating emphasize the great
influence exercised in Greek sculpture by mental processes as
compared wdth mere impressionism or naturalism. As every
representation of early art rests on a mental construction, so
every figure of mature art rests upon judgment, which discrimi-
nates between good and bad, and emotion, wdiich loves the good
and rejects the bad. The aesthetic nihilism, if one may so term
it, which is willing to copy whatever nature may offer, was
very far from the artist's mind. It was not spontaneous varia-
tions in the evolution of man wdiich he wished to perpetuate,
but such variations as spoke of purpose and ideality in the
forces which were moulding man.

It was thus from the practice of athletic sports that Greek
sculpture learned its great lessons. But the faculty of working
for the ideal thus acquired was exercised in other fields. The
representation of the female form in Greek sculpture is not so
varied and masterly as is that of the male form, nor does
it so soon reach perfection ; it is not until the fourth century
that female types of supreme physical loveliness are produced.
In this case the beauty must be racial ; for the women of
Greece, at least in Athens and the Ionian cities, led sedentary



lives, and did not systematically cultivate either health or
beauty. Nevertheless, they must have achieved them to a de-
gree very rarely found among the women of modern Europe.
Here again, no doubt, the exquisite types which have come down
to us combine the beauties of several individuals wonderfully
gifted by nature. We are told of the painter Zeuxis, that when
he received a commission to paint a figure of Helen for the
people of Croton, he made it a condition that he should have
opportunities of studying the forms of the most beautiful vir-
gins of the city. He selected for more detailed study five,
whose names were handed down in honour to future genera-

The sense of beauty thus born of the observation of beautiful
young bodies spread farther, not only to grouping and the study
of drapery, but also to x:)ortrait-sculpture. This is a branch of
ancient art which has hitherto been much neglected, strangely
enough, since it appeals in a special degree to the modern taste.
In recent years important works, published of course in Ger-
many, have made the study of ancient portrait-sculpture for the
first time possible.^ In turning over the portraits of Greek
statesmen, poets, and philosophers, one is fairly amazed at the
high level of beauty which they show: here a beauty not merely
of outline and physical condition, but of mind and character.
These great men seem to belong to a race which has perished,
one very little resembling the inhabitants of modern Greece,
but more like fine Italian or Teutonic types. It is a race of
kings, reminding one of nothing so much as the heroic figures
which meet us in the Lives of Plutarch — a book which has
perhaps done more to foster manliness than any book ever

1 Dionys. Halicarn., De priscis script, cens., I. ; Cicero, De invent., II., 1, 1.

2 Especially Arndt's great series of photographs, Griechische und Romische
Portrlits; and Bernoulli's useful Griechische Ikonographie and Romische
Ikono graphic.


It is, at least, very probable that a deep-seated cultus of
beauty in the race would tend to produce beauty in chil-
dren. This is a matter on which obviously I canuot here
enlarge ; but some of the evidence collected by Mr. Myers is
striking,^ and seems to indicate that mental suggestion made
to women may modify the character of their offspring.
This mental element has never yet been properly taken into
account in ethnographic inquiries ; it may be of the first im-

There is also a marked contrast between the conditions under
which the ancient and the modern sculptor work. In our days
the sculptor ordinarily works from a single model, and the
works exhibited at the Koyal Academy show that the models
accepted by modern sculptors are often of very poor type, ill-
nourished and ill-trained. Among a people predominantly
urban, and living under unhealthy conditions, the admiration
of robust beauty in man and woman is apt to give way to
admiration of what is fashionable or smart. The danger of
physical degeneracy hangs low over all the nations of Europe.
Our continual competitions, our restless travellings, our reck-
less sacrifice of all that restrains, in our endeavours to reach
certain ends, make a gospel of rhythm and moderation seem
to us dull and poor. It does not spur our jaded energies, or
rouse us with a stimulating appeal. And yet, as it seems to
me, unless the English-speaking races return in some measure
to the artistic ideals of Greece, they are in the long run
doomed. Overpowering ugliness of surroundings, physical
degeneracy, nervous exhaustion leading to sterility, all these
have, in spite of the efforts of a few, steadily gained upon us
in recent decades; and the road which they mark leads to de-
struction. Those doctors who, instead of trying to patch up
the ravages of disease and to prolong radically unhealthy lives,
1 F. W. H. Myers, Human Personality , Vol. II., p. 516.


earnestly give themselves to making war on the outward con-
ditions which lead to degeneracy, do us infinite service.

Though Greek art be based upon physical beauty, other and
more strictly ideal elements enter into the superstructure. It
is also essentially religious. Most of the great religions of the
world — Buddhism, Judaism, Islamism, even Christianity —
are inimical to plastic art, since they turn the eyes of their
votaries not outward upon man and nature, but inward on the
human heart. But the Greek religion was naturally allied with
plastic art, and in a great degree lived through it. Greek reli-
gion found the way to embody in art all that most stirs the
religious feelings of men at the stage of naturalism : the sun in
its spendour, the moon in its gentle romance, the ocean and the
river, the rock and the forest. It peopled the mountain glens
and the waves of the sea with an overflowing life human in its
forms. It found a natural and a concrete expression for all
that excites the delight and the awe of the primitive man in the
presence of nature. The modern artist renders the features
of nature as he sees them, adding no doubt to the scene some-
thing of human emotion, which makes it interesting. The Greek
boldly translated them by means of human parallels. And
something of this religious rendering remained in sculpture,
even when it had in the beliefs of the people almost been lost
sight of. Poseidon, the ruler of the sea, with vast chest and
unkempt hair, retains something of the resistless power of the
wave and the drift of the seaweed. Apollo's long flowing
locks to the end remind us that in the poetry of nature the
rays of the sun are thought of as the hair of the sun-god.

Afterwards, under the influence of the Olympian religion,
mere naturalism took on an ethical character, and the gods
became more human as well as more humane and righteous.




Working on parallel lines, the Greek artist took up the task
of adding a certain degree of moral and spiritual elevation
to mere physical beauty. The type of the god grows apart
from the type of the athlete, and the goddess is differentiated

Fig. 27. — Artemis, Olympia.

from a mere mortal woman. They are touched by the light
of another world. But it was not in the Greek nature that the
other-worldly elements should be entirely victorious, and put
the merely human in the background. The Greeks stopped,
at least in their great period, at a measure of moral and reli-
gious idealism with wdiich plastic art could cope.


The essential difference between the religious art of the
Oriental nations — the Babylonians, Assyrians, and Egyptians

— and that of the Greeks was that, while the representations
of the deities in Oriental art were symbolic, in Hellenic
art they were ideal. The Egyptian or Assyrian artist dis-
tinguishes his gods and his goddesses by the animal heads
which they bear, the attributes Avhich they carry in their
hands, or their dress. Deities are sometimes represented in
monstrous form, part beast and part man, each feature bear-
ing a meaning which does not lie on the surface, but which
has to be explained by the priest. If a Babylonic artist
wishes to depict the swiftness of a deity, he gives him Avings

— wings not meant to fly wdth, but only to be worn as a sign.
If the artist wishes to represent his power over nature, he
places in his hands, in conventional or heraldic arrangement,
a pair of lions or of stags or of composite monsters, who
stand for the malign influences of the spiritual world. And
the Greeks, in the earliest stage of their art, would adopt from
their neighbours such types — animal-headed, winged, holding
monsters (Fig. 27) — and give to them the names of their own
deities. Even in the time of St. Paul the Greeks of Ephesus
worshipped Artemis
in the form of a
rude, misshapen im-
age, whose many
breasts indicated the
rich and abundant
life of the valley of
the Cayster (Fig. 28). ^^^- "^- " ^''''^'' ' ^"^'^ «* ^P^'^^'-

As it grew towards maturity, Greek sculpture discarded this
inartistic and conventional symbolism. Aristotle observes
that a work of art is no mere symbol, but a likeness. It is
true that the deities to the last, especially in their formal


cultns-images, retained attributes indicating their special prov-
inces or functions — Zeus carrying the thunderbolt as master
of the sky, Apollo the lyre, Artemis the bow, the herald-god
Hermes his wand of office, and so forth. But apart from such
attributes, which may fairly be regarded as survivals, each
deity does, in very form, pose, and dress, embody the character
and functions which especially belong to him. It was a slow
and gradual process, wdiich can be traced in existing sculptural
works, an evolution which took place in the thought and spirit
of the Greek people, and was embodied by successive sculptors
in their productions.

Human materials were, of course, used in the production of
the divine results. The type of Zeus, the father of gods and
men, is a reflection of the Greek human father, as we see him in
the Athenian sepulchral reliefs, seated amid his children. The
type of Apollo is that of the young athlete, in all the glory of
perfect symmetry and agile force. Hermes is the idealized
herald, Asclepius the idealized family physician. The type of
Artemis is taken from the active virgins of Laconia, skilled in
athletic sports, and said to be capable of wrestling with youths
of their own age. If w^e compare a later sculptural type of
Artemis, the well-known figure of the Louvre, for example
(Fig. 29), with the types above mentioned, we shall see how a
mere external symbolism gives way to an incorporation in the
figure itself of its divine attributes. The swiftness of the deity
is no longer represented by the addition of merely symbolic
wings, but is seen in her lofty and strongly knit frame. The
power over the animal creation wdiich belonged to the goddess
is no longer represented by placing two lions or two stags in her
hands, but by the deer which runs beside her, a willing votary
and no longer a mere captive. Even barbarous art might easily
represent a deity of nature as running and drawing the bow.^

1 Compare the Mycenaean gem, Furtwangler, Antike Gemmen, PI. II., 24.




The superiority of the Greek rendering lies in the thoroughly
harmonious and ideal character of the statue, which represents
not a mere Avoman, but a being of perpetual youth and vigour.
It differs from
the works of bar-
barous art as a
Greek poem dif-
fers from a rudely
cut pictographic

Athena is some-
what unusual,
retaining all
through the his-
tory of Greek art
her arms, her
helmet and aegis,
save in a few
exceptional cases.
The reason of
this is that the
goddess of war
must be martial ;
and as there were
no martial women
for sculptors to
copy, they had to
add armour to an

Fig. 29. — Artemis of the Louvre.

ordinary woman. The thoughtful face and rounded limbs of
Athena stand in strange contrast to her martial equipment.
Here mere symbolism has survived. We must not, however,
lose sight of the fact that Athena had become closely identified
with the corporate personality of the great city of Athens, over


which she presided. She had to embody that city in all its
activities — in arms as goddess of victory, in arts as Athena
Ergane, the patroness of work, in health and beauty as Athena


In the representation of some other deities we may note
traces of symbolism which survive. Hermes frequently has
small wings attached to his cap or his feet; and these are
clearly merely symbolic survivals of the great shoulder wings
of Oriental sculpture.

Generally speaking, in later art the gods are almost wholly
humanized. Even the Satyr retains only the pointed ears and
the short tail of his half-human prototype, though Pan on the
other hand keeps the goat's legs, which had accrued to him as
the god of the herdsmen.

In the great work of Professor Overbeck on the types of the
deities, the Kunstmythologie, we constantly find the question
raised. What sculptor is responsible for the type of such and
such a deity? Overbeck maintains that nearly always it is one
or two great sculptors who fixed for all time the type of each,
just as the Homeric poems fixed for all time the poetic char-
acter of many of them. Overbeck perhaps falls into the Ger-
man fault of over-schematizing. But still it is quite true that
when once a high type had been fixed for a deity in sculpture,
that type was seldom afterwards lost sight of or entirely
superseded. At a moment which can be fixed the fruit was
ripe, and afterwards began to decay. The types of Zeus and
Athena were founded by the splendid colossal statues of
Pheidias ; the type of Dionysus was fixed for later art in the
school of Praxiteles ; that of Poseidoii in the school of Lysip-
pus. It almost seems that when once the national idea had
been fully expressed by an artist whom it inspired, it receded
like the sea when it has touched high-water mark.

" The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men," was


the exclamation of the barbarous Lycaonians when they saw
the power of Paul over physical infirmity. This phrase sums
up the process which was going on in the religion of Greece in
all ages. That is to say, in the popular religion ; for in Greek
religion there were four strains : (1) The ordinary cultus of
the deities, adorned by the poets, embodied in great colleges of
priests, protected by the states. (2) The mystic religion taught
at Eleusis and in the secret proceedings of the Orphic sectaries,
a religion which dealt with such facts as sin and absolution,
with communion with the gods and hope of a future life.
(3) The religion of the philosophers,^ a somewhat severe mono-
theism, full of ethical elements, and quite beyond the under-
standing of the ordinary citizen. To which one may add as a
fourth element, (4) the old-world superstitions connected with
magic and ghosts, such superstitions as have in the past always
prevailed among the lower strata of the people, and have a ten-
dency to come to the surface when the higher religion is eclipsed
or in a state of decay. In a recent able work ^ this lowest part
of Greek religion is treated as at once the oldest part of it and
that which offers most possibility of progress. This I cannot
concede. It is difficult to expel from the mind the notion that
what is most barbarous in religion must needs be oldest ; but
we know that in all societies down to the present day there are
strata in religion, which are almost independent one of the
other, and go on from age to age almost at the same level. The
few, two thousand years ago, had nobler views of divine things
than the many have now: I say the few than the many, because
it is not a matter of wealth nor of social standing, but of more
or less spiritual nature. Thus the elements of the religions
of Greece come from many sources, and live on during Greek
history in different social strata, though of course action and

1 See Dr. E. Caird's Evolution of Theology in the Greek Philosophers.

2 Miss Jaue Harrison's Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion.


reaction between the strata is constantly going on, the whole
making np a tangled web which will probably never be wholly
untangled. That there is a close connection in religion between
the mystic element and the superstitious element is also a very
doubtful thesis ; there is a mysticism which goes with low
views of the gods and a mysticism which goes with the loftiest
views of God which man can accept.

It is the first of these kinds of religion only which had an
affinity for art, and is fully embodied in it.^ Alike mystic
asceticism and philosophy have in all ages been indifferent or
hostile to art. The attitude of Plato toward the Homeric
poems is that preserved by most philosophers throughout to-
wards the products of poetry and imagination, though of course
some philosophers may have had aesthetic susceptibilities
which they could not suppress. And there is to be found in
Greek art from first to last very little of mysticism or of spirit-
uality. A few late types — Sarapis, Isis, Mithras — may have
in them something of spiritual exaltation ; but such asceticism
as made a profound impression upon the Christian art of the
jNIiddle Ages was quite foreign to the art of Greece.

It is in this light that we must interpret some of the sayings
of ancient writers. Quintilian^ says of the great statue of Zeus
by Pheidias, that its beauty added something to the received
religion. By this he can scarcely mean that the statue gave
men a loftier conception of the divine nature, for in the Colos-
sus of Pheidias, admirable as it doubtless was, there would be
nothing to lift the mind from man to the superhuman, and
Pheidias himself seems to have taken his inspiration not from
the aspirations of the philosophers but from the Iliad. A clue
is given us by the saying of Dio Chrysostom,^ " Our Zeus is

1 A very useful book on the relations between art and mythology is Dr.
L. R. Farnell's Cults of the Greek States.

2 X., 10., 9. 3 XII., li ; cf. H. Stuart Jones, p. 93.


peaceful and mild in every way, as it were the guardian of
Hellas when she is of one mind and not distraught by faction."
Zeus was the deity not of the individual seeker after holiness,
but of the Greek race as an ideal unity. What Pheidias added
to religion was a new tie uniting together the people of the
various cities and states — a furtherance of nationality. In the
same way, in the great statue of Athena Parthenos at Athens,
Pheidias gave to the city a mirror or an embodiment of her
corporate life. Athena and Athenae, the goddess and the city,
could scarcely be separated ; the man who brought an offering
to the goddess gave it to the city, and the man who died in
battle for the city died in the service of the goddess. Unless
one continually bears in mind the nature of the city-state in
antiquity, and the power which it exercised over the imagina-
tion of the citizen, the most important strain in Greek religion
and religious art will not be recognized.

Sculpture, of course, went on during, and after the decay of,
the city-state. In the opinion of the Greeks themselves it
went on at a lower level ; for it was reduced to taking as its
main motive mere human beauty and perfection, and the line
between the representation of the gods and the representation
of men again grew faint. The deities which had acquired a
tinge of mysticism — Apollo, Dionysus, Persephone — best kept
something of the divine; Aphrodite, Ares, Hermes, came
nearer to the human level. But as the Greek sculptors drew
down the gods to humanity, so they succeeded, better than any
other artists in the world, in raising the representations of men
and women almost to a divine level. An age of stately tombs
and of magnificent portraiture succeeded the age of temples and
statues of the gods.



Sculpture in relation to history may be considered in two
very different ways : first we may inqnire how the actual polit-
ical history of Greece is reflected in the productions of the
sculptor ; second, how the course of sculpture runs parallel to
the history of the Greek spirit in other fields of activity.

It might be supposed that the idealizing tendency of Greek
art would make it unsuitable for recording actual facts of his-
tory — the details of a battle, the circumstances of a civic suc-
cess, and the like. There is some justification for this view,
but it must not be expressed in too absolute a way. The walls
of Greek stoae abounded in representations which were in inten-
tion historic. Micon, or Panaenus, painted in a stoa at Athens
a representation of the battle of Marathon, and Euphranor
painted the cavalry battle at Mantinea in which Epaminondas
took part. Our knowledge, however, of surviving Greek monu-
ments forbids us to think that these would be realistic repre-
sentations of "the delights and the horrors of war."

In the friezes of the beautiful Ionic monument of Xanthus,
the so-called Xereid monument, brought to the British Museum
by Sir Charles Eellowes, we find a sculptural record of an
actual siege of some unknown city in Lycia or Caria.^ Several
scenes are portrayed, — the assailants advancing against the
city and mounting scaling ladders to the assault, the general of

1 Mon. d. Inst., X., Pis. 11-18, and the histories of sculpture.



the besiegers sitting in state to receive envoys from the city, the
flight or the captivity of the citizens. But tliough the scenes
show us the course of events, there is nothing in them to help
us to identify the besieger or the besieged city. The intention
is to represent tlie generic rather tlian the individual.

On the great sarcophagus found at Sidon there are depicted
two scenes from the life of Alexander the Great — one of his
battles and a lion hunt in which he takes part. We will
analyze the former scene (Fig. 30) ; nothing could give one a
clearer notion of the mingled precision and ideality of Greek
sculpture. To begin with, there is nothing loose or inaccurate
in the representation of dress, armour, and the like. The Per-
sian cavalry and archers, the Macedonian horse and foot, the
Greek peltasts, are all armed and clad in different ways, and
one can tell at a glance to which branch of the army each fig-
ure belongs. And each fights in his own way. Of course at
no actual spot in the battle-field would different troops be thus
mingled in picturesque grouping : the scene is not a realistic
excerpt from the battle, but an idealized summary of it. Let
us briefly analyze it, figure by figure. On the left, Alexander,
distinguished by his lion-skin helmet, charges in person, over-
throwing with his lance a horse and a rider, who had already
turned to fly from his impetuous attack. At the opposite end,
an elderly officer, probably the veteran Parmenio, hurls a Per-
sian general opposed to him from his horse into the arms of a
foot-soldier who hurries up. In the midst of the composition,
a third horseman, a masterly figure, strikes down a Persian
foot-soldier. To the left of the central group, a Macedonian
foot-guard rushes impetuously on a Persian foe. To the right,
a light-armed Greek boldly meets the charge of a Persian rider.
Below, one sees two Persian archers drawing their bows, and
five bodies of dead warriors, of whom four are Persian and one
is Greek.

114 A GRAMMAK OF GREEK ART chap, viii

The Persians in the scene are more numerous, twelve to six,

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