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yet their defeat is clearly shown. A third of their number has
already fallen, and others are falling. They cannot resist the
charge of the heavy-armed Macedonian foot, still less the
onslaught of the cavalry of the guard. What a Greek eye
would have at once observed, and dwelt on with satisfaction,
is the wonderful symmetry of the composition. Side balances
side and group group to perfection, yet without any slavish
or pedantic correspondence. The modern eye would scarcely
notice the symmetry till it was pointed out, but it will bear
the closest examination. Every figure is carefully worked out
in reference to the whole scheme, and the story of victory and
defeat is admirably told. To Alexander the Persian foe dares
not even offer resistance; Parmenio has easily overthrown his
opponent, but the younger captain in the middle still meets
resistance. It is fair to judge that among the events of the
battle portrayed were a charge of Macedonian foot on Persian
infantry, another of Persian cavalry on light-armed Greek
infantry ; while the decisive move was the charge of Alex-
ander and his cavalry. Thus the composition, while admirable
in itself and perfect in detail, really tells us more of the tale
of the battle than could any realistic extract. It must be ex-
plained that the whole relief is really continuous, and only for
convenience divided in our engraving.

This sarcophagus is a wonderful masterpiece; but it is a
somewhat late product of Greek art, and Attic sculpture at an
earlier time took an even more ideal line in the representation
of history. Of this a better example could scarcely be found
than the sculptural decoration of the Parthenon, in which may
be traced in an Attic rendering the whole history of the city
of Athens from its mythical foundation onward; the history
as it existed in the mind of the gods rather than as it existed
visibly on the earth.












I— I


The history begins with the eastern pediment. Here was
represented the birth of Athena. What was the original mean-
ing of the strange story of the birth? Why the goddess leaped
full-armed from the head of her father, it is not easy to say.
In this matter there are various schools of interpretation. An-
thropologists of the school of INIr. Lang will lay stress upon
the monstrosity of the tale that Zeus swallowed Metis when
Athena was in her womb, and then produced the child himself,
and compare the still more barbarous tales of a similar bearing
which come to us from savage races in the South Seas and
Africa and America. Those interpreters who lay emphasis
on the physical basis of myth will see in Athena the sudden
dawn of the South, leaping up from the underworld, or the
lightning springing from the cloven cloud. But we must not
confuse, as many of these investigators do, the question of ori-
gin with the question of meaning. What it is of importance
that we should know is what meaning attached to the myth at
Athens in the fifth century. To the men who built the Par-
thenon, Athena was no -phenomenon of savage myth, nor was
she the dawn nor the lightning, but something nearer and
dearer and more spiritual by far. She was, as I have already
pointed out, the embodiment of the spiritual personality of
Athens itself. And so when the goddess is born, Athens, too,
is born in a high and ideal sense. Because she lives, Athens
must also live. And she springs from the head of Zeus be-
cause the city arises out of the clear and determinate counsel
of the gods, and is born to occupy a certain sphere and to do
a certain work in Hellas and the world. She is born full-
armed because without arms no purpose could come to fruition
in the early world.

In the western pediment the tale is carried on. The destiny
of the nascent city and of the Attic land is to be determined.
Is Athens to become a votary of Poseidon ? Is she to live in


the ways of the sea, to be devoted to commerce, to strive after
a prosperity which is mainly material ? In part she must take
this course. Material necessities control her purposes, as they
do the purposes of all cities. Men must live, and to live in the
not too fertile Attic land they must increase their natural re-
sources by manufacture and by trade. But still the city is not
to be the city of Poseidon. In spite of physical necessities she
shall remain true to her higher calling. Even her material
development shall be controlled by Athena Ergane, the mistress
of the workers. If she is to grow wealthy, it shall not be by
merely supplying the grosser needs of men. Her main pro-
ductions shall be connected with their higher activities. She
shall produce the finest oil to make supple the limbs of athletes
and to feed the lamps which burn in the presence of the gods.
Her honey and her figs shall have something of the delicacy
and the charm of the light Athenian air. She shall supply the
most beautiful marble and the best wood for buildinsr and for
carving. And one of her chief productions shall be those
painted vases, in which she has almost a monopoly in the an-
cient world, and which have been preserved to us in such
abundance in the tombs of Italy and Cyprus and Cyrene.

And beside and above all this, Athens is to be the city of
arms and of courage, of song and the drama, of thought and
wisdom. What Athena is in Olympus, Athens is to be on
earth, the favourite of Zeus, foremost in valour and in wisdom,
quickest to read the divine purpose and most persistent in
carrying it out; the best visible embodiment of the divine
thought which lies at the root of transitory phenomena.

The pediments thus set before us the destinies of Athens.
In the metopes we see the city set about the accomplishment
of her destiny in spite of many hindrances and various foes.
The story of the development of order out of chaos, and civili-
zation out of barbarism, is there presented to us in four chap-


ters. First there is the battle of the Gods and Giants, the issue
of which decided whether the world was to be governed by the
untamed forces of nature, storm and earthquake, lightning and
cloud, or to come under the sway of an orderly and organized
Olympus, with Zeus at its head. Among all the combatants
in that memorable strife, none was more prominent than
Athena, who, clad in shining arms, overthrew her opponent,
Enceladus, and buried him under Etna. In this combat Athens
is represented by her goddess. But in the second and third
chapters of the history it is the ancestors of the people of
Athens, under their ancestral leader, Theseus, who appear.
Their foes are respectively the monstrous Centaurs, compounded
of horse and man, and the monstrous Amazons, compounded of
man and woman. By overthrowing the Centaurs, Theseus and
his men made it certain that Greece should not be the prey of
the barbarous races of the ;N"orth, stealers of boys and women,
drunken and brutal, but should be able to grow and develop
in peace. AYhat is meant by the repulse of the Amazons is
not so clear, nor can it be so briefly stated. But I think those
are at bottom right who regard the combats of Greeks and
Amazons as a reflex in art of the early clashing of the primi-
tive races of Asia and Greece with their female divinities, and
the Aryan invaders from the Xorth, the Greeks and their
cousins the Phrygians and the Carians, with male deities and
patriarchal government.

In the battles with Amazon and Centaur as represented in
art, Theseus is conspicuous. In myth he is represented as
aiding Peirithous in his resistance to the Centaurs when they
attacked him and his bride in her Thessalian home ; and as
driving back from Attica the invading Amazons under their
queen Hippolyta. We are unable to say how much actual
history lies under these myths, whether the Athenians in the
prehistoric age really took a large share in the wars against


the aboriginal people of Greece and against the rude Thracian
tribes of the jSTorth. But whether the myths embody actual
history or not, they certainly embody ideal history. If they
do not tell us what really took place, they tell us at least what
was supposed to have taken place.

In the monumental art of Greece one is somewhat surfeited
with the Centaur and the Amazon. To a modern eye these
compound and incongruous forms are unpleasing; and one
greatly regrets that the Greeks did not aim more at variety.
Probably Amazon and Centaur were perpetuated and stereo-
typed in Greek art for purely artistic reasons, because they
offered the artist an unlimited number of defined and graceful
problems in pose and composition. In time the love of artistic
problem apart from meaning became the ruin of Greek art,
just as its literary parallel, the love of graceful phrase and
elegant composition, became the bane of Greek history and
philosophy. But let us go back beyond later developments to
the splendid freshness of art in the fifth century, and we shall
see that the subjects of these metopes had not yet lost their
meaning, that they still spoke to the intellect as well as to the
eye and the taste.

The fourth group of metopes takes us out of the realm of
pure myth into something more nearly approaching history,
and brings us to events which passed in Greece for actual and
prosaic fact. They represent the taking of Troy,^ the vengeance
wrought by united Greece on the city which had sheltered
him Avho had violated hospitality and carried away the wife
of Menelaus, king of Sparta. As every reader of Herodotus
knows, the Greeks looked on their successive contests with
the powers of the Asiatic mainland as the acts in a drama, the

1 It is disputed by some archaeologists whether this is the suhject of any
metopes, and the deplorable condition of the sculpture prevents us from
being sure ; but it is probable.


drama of Hellene against barbarian. The final act of the
drama, the overthrow of the Persian Empire by Alexander,
was in the far future when the Parthenon was built. But
already Marathon and Salamis and Plataea had been won, and
already the pride of Asia had been severely checked by the
Athenian army and fleet. These victories were quite recent
in the time of Pericles. In a sense the Parthenon might be
said to be a memorial of them. Yet it is not they which
Pheidias chose to depict, but the earlier battles at Ilium. This
is a very good illustration of the difference between the ancient
and the modern point of view, and a good example of the
passion for the type rather than the individual, which is so
marked a feature of the best Greek art. We could scarcely
imagine any way of commemorating a victory which did not
give prominence to the generals to whom it Avas due. Yet,
when one comes to think of it, that way of regarding matters
is not really either artistic or pious. It is not artistic, because
it concentrates attention on portraits which are not always
really beautiful to contemplate. And it is not pious, because
it attributes victory to the skill and valour of individuals
rather than to the favour of Heaven and the destinies of races.
Such, at least, is the Greek view.

These four series of metopes bring the history of Athens
down to the time when the Parthenon was erected. And the
frieze which ran like a wreath round the top of the temple
carries on the history not into the future, but into the realm
of cultus and religion. As the warlike activities of the Athe-
nians occupy the metopes, so their peaceful activity finds full
expression in the representation of the Panathenaic festival,
the crown of the religious life of the city.

The intention followed in this glorious frieze — quite one of
the most interesting of all works of ancient sculpture — is
to be clearly traced. To begin with, there was, of course, no



notion of any literal or naturalist copy of the actual scene;
everytliing is typical. The most striking features of the
Panathenaic procession are brought out, but in a thoroughly
harmonious and artistic, a somewhat conventional, way. Some
writers of the last generation, such as Karl Botticher, were so
much struck with this predominance of the idea over the fact,
that they maintained the representation to be not of the actual
procession, but of a partial rehearsal for it — a wonderful
instance of learned blindness and want of understanding. In
the next place it has been pointed out that the animals brought
for sacrifice are not the same in the north and the south parts
of the frieze. In the north frieze they are cows and sheep, in
the south frieze, cows only. Xow cows were sacrificed on the
occasion to Athena by the Athenians themselves ; but the Athe-
nian cleruchi settled in other lands sent more varied offerings
— both oxen and sheep. Thus it would seem that the sculptor
meant to insist on the participation of the colonists of Athens,
as well as of those who dwelt at home, in the festival of
Athena. His view takes in not Athens only, but the Athenian
Empire. And in one group of figures he seems to go even be-
yond the dominions of the city. At the east end of the temple
there is the group of seated deities, who await the approach of
the procession. The festival belongs to Athena, but all the
great deities of Greece are present as her guests, she being the
hostess. I do not think it is fanciful to find in this group-
ino- a reflection of the noblest of the ideas of Pericles, that of
the unity of Greece. Athens was, in his view, to be dominant ;
but she was not to stand alone. Her relation to the other
states of Greece was not to be the same as her relation to the
hated barbarian. Beneath the shield of Athena all the cities
of Greece were to find refuge, and in return they were to con-
tribute to their patroness both tribute and honour. Could this
idea be better expressed than by depicting all the chief deities


of Greece as assembled at the festival of Athena, under her
presidency, and waiting to receive the long array of the citizens
of Athens and the colonists with their respective offerings ?

Shall we say, then, that it is in the main religious ideas or
patriotic ideas which are incorporated in the sculptural deco-
ration of the Parthenon ? This is a question which scarcely
admits of an answer, for at Athens the cnltus of Athena was
so closely connected with the pride in and love of her city that
the two could scarcely be separated. In celebrating the birth
and victory of their goddess, the Athenians glorified their city ;
and in recording the exploits of their ancestors, they glorified
Athena. Finally, in commemorating the Panathenaic festival,
they put on an ideal level the relations of Athens and the
Athenian Empire with the protecting deity. Patriotism and
religion were but two phases of the same feelings and aspira-

We may take a few more of the Greek dedications, which
show a similar point of view. At Delphi the Athenians dedi-
cated a great bronze group in memory of Marathon, and it is
instructive to see of what figures it was composed. First and
foremost were Apollo and Athena, representing the divine
favour, without which the battle would never have been won.
Next were portrayed the ancestral heroes of the Attic tribes,
every tribe and every soldier being thus personified in a
mythical representative. Finally, as a rare and exceptional
honour, the general Miltiades was introduced.

A similar religious and idealizing tendency is equally conspic-
uous in literature. In the story as told by Herodotus, the gods
play a considerable part, and when Aeschylus, who had him-
self fought at Salamis, determined to represent on the Athenian
stage the victory of Greece over Persia, he uses every means to


avoid drawing down the combat to a too realistic level. This
was not easy, as the Persian ships and the Median chivalry
were sights familiar to many of the audience. To represent
them wrongly would be impossible, to represent them literally
would not only overtax the very simple stage arrangements of
the Attic theatre, but also transgress its main ideas. So
Aeschylus lays the scene of his Persians in Persia itself, and
the battle of Salamis is merely described by a messenger who
arrives from the sea, and tells Atossa wdiat has come to pass.
But he does not dwell on the achievements of Greek heroes ;
he does not even name the leaders ; his treatment of the sub-
ject is purely ethical. Aeschylus pays the victory of Salamis
the great compliment of treating it in his play as if it had been
one of the divinely ordained triumphs of mythical heroes of
the Greek race. To the modern individualist mind it seems
that the honour ought to belong to one man or another man ;
but that is not the Greek view. However, at a later time,
individualism won more way, so that when Lysander set up at
Delphi the trophy which commemorated the taking of Athens,
he did insert in it the portraits of his sea-captains, and Posei-
don is introduced mainly that he may hand a wreath to the
victorious general himself.

There is something of the religious interpretation of his-
tory to be traced even in vase-paintings. A very fine vase of
Tarentum^ (Fig. 31) represents the conflict of Asia and Europe
in a rather remarkable way. The picture is a large one, and
contains three rows of figures. In the lowest row Persians are
represented, bringing contributions of money to a treasurer,
who is recording the amounts in- his tablets. In the middle
row is King Darius in the midst of his council, who are evi-
dently deliberating on grave affairs ; and a person in Greek
dress, probably Damaratus, the Spartan refugee, is addressing

1 Mon. delV Inst., Vol. IX., 51.


the king, behind whom stands one of the body-guard. The
subject of his discourse is clearly the invasion of Greece. That
invasion was to come ; yet before it came it was doomed to
failure ; and this is set forth in the top line of the picture, where
we see Hellas standing safe between her two great guardians,
Zeus and Athena; though Asia, represented as a proud seated
queen, sends against her a kind of fury, bearing two torches
and having snakes in her hair, over whose head stands the in-
scription Am, or Curse. Aphrodite and Artemis on the right
complete the tale of gods, with Victory, who is beseeching the
attention of Zeus to Hellas.

The other subject mentioned, the way in which in Greece
the history of sculpture was parallel to the main course of his-
tory, we cannot here consider. The connection between history
and sculpture is not, as may Be judged from what has been
said already, so close as the connection between history and
inscriptions, or history and coins. The course of the higher
art does not throw light upon the definite facts of history ; but
it does accompany and throw light on the gradual changes in
politics, in religion, and in custom which occurred as Greece
ran her course. It is, however, impossible here to go further
into this parallelism ; I must refer the reader to the histories
of Greek art and Greek sculpture, which deal with the matter
in detail.



We pass next to the consideration of Greek painting. Here,
alas ! our losses are far greater than they are in the field of
architecture and sculpture. The sculpture preserved in our
museums, injured though it be, is yet amply sufficient to inform
us as to the character and history of the plastic art in Greece,
and to enable us to judge it fairly. But the extant remains of
the contemporary painting are very few and slight, and by no
means adequate to enable us to understand the works of artists
like Zeuxis and Apelles.

We are obliged to content ourselves as best we can with two
classes of works, the Greek vases of the good period of art,
and the fresco wall-paintings of the Eoman age found at
Pompeii, at Rome, and elsewhere. These are all, of course, far
below the level of the best Greek art. Of the fresco-paintings
of the later age I shall scarcely be able to treat in this work.
We shall mainly concern ourselves with vases. And the paint-
ings of vases, however slight when regarded as works of art,
are important, as bringing us nearer than do works of sculp-
ture to the mythology, the literature, and the daily life of the

The true method in this as in other cases is to put together
the statements of ancient writers in regard to art and works of
art, such writers as Pliny, Pausanias, and Lucian, and to com-
pare them with the remains of frescoes and the vase-iDaintings



which have come down to us. Each of these sources of
information, the literary and the archaeological, requires the
aid of the other ; they may be compared to longitude and lati-
tude in geography. If we know only the longitude or only the
latitude of a place, we may try in vain to fix it. In the same
way historic record and the examination of monuments apart
lead to very vague knowledge. Their combination leads to
exact knowledge.

The only systematic account of the early history of Greek
painting which we possess is that given by Pliny in the 35th
book of his Natural History} Pliny tells us, among other
things, that the Egyptians claimed the invention of painting ;
but that according to the Greeks it was invented at Sicyon or
Corinth. First there came outline drawings, then inner
markings within such outlines, then washes of colour, one
colour only being used for a while. One of the earliest colours
used was a red made from pounded potsherds. Pliny also
gives the names of a few of the painters who made great
progress in the art, telling us that Eumarus of Athens first
distinguished male from female figures, and Cimon of Cleonae
" invented catagrapha, that is, figures out of the straight, and
ways of representing faces looking back, up, or down : he also
made the joints of the body clear, emphasized veins, worked
out folds and doublings in garments." Polygnotus of Thasos,
Pliny adds, ''first represented women in transparent dress,
decked their heads with many coloured kerchiefs, and made
great innovations in the art of painting, if it was he who
showed how to open the mouth, to show the teeth, to super-
sede archaic stiffness in the face."

It does not do to attach too much importance to statements

1 Especially sections 15, 16, 56, 58.


of Plinv, who is a most careless and inexact author. But he
usually writes after reading G-reek writers who are more trust-
worthy than himself. And it is likely that a safe basis for a
history of early painting in Greece existed in the scientific
days after Alexander, not in the form of tradition, which
would be almost worthless, but in the shape of actual paintings
preserved in temples and porticoes, and bearing the signatures
of early painters, just as contemporary works of sculpture bore
the signatures of their authors. If this be the case, the trav-
ellers and collectors of facts in later Greece, such men as
Polemo and Eratosthenes, would be able to collect valuable
first-hand evidence. Thus it would seem that when Pliny says
that such and such a painter " introduced " an improvement, he
really means that it is noteworthy in some extant works of
his, and not to be found, or at least not to be so clearly dis-
cerned, in more archaic paintings.

If we compare Pliny's statements with existing monuments,
especially with reliefs and vases, we shall find confirmation of
many of his statements. The painting of the Mycenaean age
seems to have wholly or almost wholly disappeared with the
ruin of that civilization, though it is possible that some of its
traditions may have lived on in Asia Minor. At any rate, we
find a practically new departure in the drawing on vases of
the next age, the geometric. This is partly in outline, partly
in silhouette; and Pliny's notion that outline-drawing must
have been the earlier is perhaps based rather on logical than on
historic grounds. But when we come to Eumarus of Athens, we
have to do with a historic character. We have an inscription
found on the Athenian Acropolis, dating from about 530 B.C.,
set up by the sculptor An tenor, who describes himself as son
of Eumarus. Eumarus would thus belong to the middle of the
sixth century. The odd statement that he first distinguished
the sexes may mean that in his paintings men were represented

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