THE authority on whom Pliny drew for the chapters on art in his Natural History ended his account of sculpture in Greece with the pupils of Lysippus. Pliny therefore tells us that art died in the beginning of the third century, and did not come to life again for a hundred and fifty years. When we remember that this period covers the activities of the Pergamene school amongst others, we may wonder whether he is saying exactly what he means. But we do know that his statement is intended to refer to the break-up of the mainland schools at that time, and however untrue in particular it may be to declare the succeeding century and a half a void, much of the time old Greece was silent. Her artists, widening a movement which had begun in the fourth century, followed the flow of wealth and power eastwards, and were to be found as single masters or in small groups executing commissions for the new kings, for the new cities which now sprang up, or for those among the old cities which now throve luxuriantly. This dispersal makes the task of the historian of art difficult. From time to time new schools were formed, made up of various elements, yet producing works of one style: but more often a single sculptor would carve or cast a statue in a city of which he was not a native, and, leaving it, would leave us nothing but a name, or a nameless copy of his work. Knowledge, too, was now more accessible than before, and one is likely to find, instead of a consistent development, reminiscence of several styles, which renders it impossible, in the absence of a signature or other external evidence, to say to what school the sculptor of such an eclectic work belongs. Stylistic comparison, one of the most trustworthy guides to the classification of works of art, thus begins to fail at the same time as literary evidence; and the virtual stereotyping of alphabetical forms robs inscriptions of much of their chronographical value.
These difficulties, and the consequent absence of a reasonably certain chronological arrangement and classification, may have contributed to the neglect with which Hellenistic art has until lately been treated. Today it is hardly necessary to insist on the importance of studying it, not only for itself but also in its bearings on that which succeeded. For the art of Rome is the direct heir, not of the fifth century nor even of the fourth (though there were fashions for works of these centuries among her connoisseurs and classical revivals besides that of Hadrian); but of the living tradition of Hellenistic art, modified in its new surroundings and embodying strong native elements, yet still a continuous development. One cannot determine the precise artistic importance of Roman monuments without knowing the Hellenistic age, although one may derive aesthetic pleasure from them, just as one cannot fully understand, although one can enjoy, Virgil without knowing Homer; and not only Homer, but Theocritus.
Hellenistic art has often been called decadent. If by decadence is meant a falling-off in technique, a loss of vitality, or a tendency to shirk difficulties, then, to speak generally, the charge does not hold. If it means imitating old fashions without improving on them, examples of it can be found then, as at almost any other time. The real difficulty in which sculptors most of all, architects to some degree, and painters far less, now found themselves, was this:—the past centuries had been too comprehensive in their success, and had exhausted most of the subjects available, while the new political and material conditions had not created corresponding demands for new kinds of dedications calling for new art-forms, nor supplied new subjects. Sculpture suffers particularly because it is comparatively limited in its repertory; and when technique has been perfected, a style worked out to its climax, and the range of subjects genuinely exhausted, some kind of revolution must occur before significant works of art are again produced in any number.
One thing at least the fifth and fourth centuries had bequeathed to sculptors, a superb technical skill, not forgotten for many a generation. There is naturally a change in the spirit which animates it: in these three centuries before Christ works by Pheidias are not to be expected, just as one does not expect another Aeschylus or another Socrates. The only questions one is entitled to ask are ‘How far are these works original?’ and ‘Are they good, in their kind?’ We are not primarily concerned with the comparative value of various kinds.
ATHENIAN SCULPTORS IN THE EARLY HELLENISTIC AGE; ALEXANDRIA
Let us look first at Athens, which, one is inclined to think, with no rich patron to stimulate her, will have fallen into the second rank. But when the evidence is examined, it will be found that even if there were not many commissions in Athens itself, and although some executed there are of no high quality, yet Athenians, with their great technical skill, were still playing a large part elsewhere in the Greek world, and the best of her home-keeping sculptors could produce splendid work when occasion demanded, at least until the middle of the third century. There is, it is true, a tendency towards an academic style, at its best among gentle or even romantic emotions, and somewhat out of place in vast scenes of tragedy. But it would be surprising not to find some such reaction after the brilliance of the fourth century, and even if the general failure of ambitious ideal sculpture seems to show that ideals had become the business of philosophers, the Athenian sculptor set to make a portrait—if we do not hold portraiture to be a separate art—acquits himself well and is not dominated by the past. Attainment is uneven, but how can it fail to be so at any period, when we judge it not only by its great masters, but by anything we may happen to have left to us, no matter from how mean a workshop it proceeded ?
Of the sculpture found in Athens itself the most important is a colossal head of Ariadne from the south slope of the Acropolis, which may be dated about the end of the fourth century: a diluted blend of Scopas and Praxiteles, like the imperfectly animated Niobid group by the same artist, the authorship of which puzzled ancient critics. Such a style is more at home in a statue representing Selene as she sinks towards Latmus, the soft vertical lines of her dress imitating her subdued radiance, a kind of rendering rarely found, or at least rarely found so obvious. The statue of Dionysus seated, from the monument of Thrasyllus, probably of 271 bc, is a conscientious piece of work and sufficiently monumental, but it lacks first-hand feeling, its grandeur being derived from a tradition which has overwhelmed the tenuous spirit of the sculptor. In the Themis by Chaerestratus, of some years before, emptiness of expression stands for impartiality, stiffness for uprightness. The unintelligent repetition of stock formulae for drapery, hair and features, is the sculptor’s substitute for fresh observation of the material means by which the goddess might have been embodied. A sapless stick—and the unexpected incidents in the drapery, which are intended to give life, hang on it like abortive leaves. Chaerestratus would not have been a great sculptor even in a great period: here he puts forth crude borrowings from masters of the last generation.
The genuine tradition of Praxiteles seems to have been kept alive by his sons Cephisodotus and Timarchus, to one of whom may be due a pleasing head (known in a copy at Taranto) which possesses a girlish freshness and a distinct personality rather in the sense of the earlier head from Chios. The two sons collaborated in a portrait of Menander set up in the theatre at Athens about 290: and its head is thought to have been identified in many copies. One other portrait, of a decade later, may be mentioned—a masterpiece—the statue of Demosthenes by Polyeuctus. It shows a power of characterization, not only in the head but in body, limbs, and drapery (the much worn, much washed, much fingered himation, whether invented or historical, is as subtle as the rest), which will bear comparison with anything which had preceded it.
A statue which, though commissioned for Alexandria, may have been the work of a sculptor from Greece proper and perhaps from Athens, is the colossal Nile, of which there is a copy (much restored in details) in the Vatican. Nile, with rippling hair and beard, lies against the Sphinx, displaying a broad smooth body at the same time fluent and monumental, and looks back towards the hills, yearning, like all water-beings, for intercourse with the constant earth. The sixteen cubits of his yearly rise lie in the swirling folds of his cloak, lap his feet, caressing the animals he shelters, climb, and pause, and scale at last his full height, to crown him and sit proudly among his and their yield of corn and fruits. A pretty enough allegory, and, even if rather obvious, worked out with humour.
In Alexandria the cult of Sarapis was promoted by Ptolemy Philadelphus, who commissioned one Bryaxis to execute the colossal cult-statue. Copies of this on a small scale—and varying in detail, because the size of the image prevented the making of casts—are numerous, having been used no doubt in private shrines: one at Alexandria itself seems to give a fair general notion of the original, and Clement of Alexandria has left an account of the great richness of the statue, and of the various metals and precious stones employed. Its colouring was gloomy: its jewelled eyes mysterious. Cerberus, his make-up more monstrous than ever, is to the fore, louring. In Egypt the more awful aspects of the cult will not have been neglected.
Both Nile and Sarapis were probably the work of recent immigrants. There must have been many such, where there was constant demand for sculpture, but we have no evidence that, either by themselves or in combination with those already established, they evolved a distinctive homogeneous style, that they maintained a general standard high enough to serve as a hotbed for occasional masterpieces, or that they contributed much to art save some excellent grotesques, mostly small bronzes, and from time to time one or two good portraits.
THE PUPILS OF LYSIPPUS AND THE RHODIAN SCHOOL
We now turn to the school of Lysippus, some of whose many pupils were still engaged at Sicyon in the production of the kind of works for which there was always a steady demand—victorious athletes, charioteers with their teams, and other votive statues— in a watered version of his style, by the aid of the technical processes, including plaster casts, which he and his brother Lysistratus had brought to perfection; while others were carrying his manner and methods to various parts of the Greek world. Chares, of Lindus, made for the city of Rhodes, after its repulse of Demetrius Poliorcetes in 305 and from the sale of his abandoned siegetrain, that bronze colossus of the sun-god, a hundred feet high, which became one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It stood for fifty-six years, was then overthrown by an earthquake, destroying many houses in its fall; remained, fallen, to stir men’s wonder for another thirteen hundred years, and finally passed out of history, sold for its metal to a Jew, on a caravan of nine hundred and eighty camels.
It has left few traces save in literature and, in faint reflections, on coins, but a short account which we possess of its erection bears witness to a high degree of technical skill, and its example evoked many more colossi in Rhodes, which now became a great centre for bronze-founding, and the home of a flourishing school of statuary. Unfortunately we know little of it except names, and are obliged to argue back from its later productions. Some of the works soon to be mentioned as of Lysippic descent may well have been made there, but the increasing mobility of sculptors and ideas renders it increasingly difficult to fix a style down to a particular place. A rich city anywhere acts as a magnet for various sculptors. They are bound at this time less than ever before by the tradition of one school: knowledge of other styles than that of their own teacher is widespread, and inspiration may be drawn at second-hand from many sources.
One or two convenient fixed points we
Starting with the Apoxyomenos, which may be dated approximately by the resemblance of the head to some of the coinportraits of Demetrius Poliorcetes, we come next to a statue closely resembling it, a boy praying, now in Berlin, which may be a copy of the adorans by Boedas, a pupil of Lysippus. It testifies to careful study of a model, though it is far from being so free from convention as Lysippus himself seems to have claimed: nevertheless there certainly is here a more direct attempt to imitate soft young flesh, and less dependence on the traditional divisions of musculature, than we have yet seen. Another fixed point is the group made by Eutychides, pupil of Lysippus, for the city of Antioch on the Orontes, presumably soon after its foundation in 300, of the Tyche of the city crowned by Seleucus and Antiochus. Eutychides is described by ancient writers as a Sicyonian: most of his recorded works were dedicated in Greece itself, and he certainly remained at Sicyon long enough to instruct a pupil; whence it is dangerous to assume that his commission in Antioch led to the establishment there of a school with Lysippic traditions. For a full understanding of the group itself (or rather of the figure of Antioch, for trustworthy copies of that alone remain) a few words are needed on the stage of development which it helps to date and illustrate. Lysippus had been making statues of women which differ from the Praxitelean in having the clothes stretched rather than draped upon them. Patterns are thus produced to which the body serves as a background, and, in addition, sometimes a series of external patterns, complementary to those on the body, is formed by stretching loose ends of drapery across the figure in a more forward plane or letting them hang, such schemes being facilitated by the use of bronze, a material of high tensile strength. The idea is, as we shall see, then carried farther, and statues are produced which, in their sacrificing of probability to the desire for particular shapes, are comparable to those of the Italian baroque.
To speak generally, the dress of the archaic korai was abstracted pattern, showing a tendency to neglect fresh study of the real garment: the statues of the fifth century were women, their clothes worn naturally, the artist making a discreet selection and adjustment of normal incidents; those of the fourth century mannequins, pinned into the fashion of the day; while those of the progressive Hellenistic schools are lay-figures, their draperies here looped, there stretched on their inelastic limbs. If they are still, one shrinks from anticipating their movement: if they are represented moving, one cannot picture them still. For to the basis of the lay-figure the sculptor is apt to add from his imagination or his memory flying pieces of drapery which would embarrass the runner were she to stop, and seated figures have loose ends lying about them the fall of which, if they were to stand, could not be foretold. Again there is a searching for pattern, but more conscious than in archaic days. Yet there are many Hellenistic statues which do not conform to these generalizations: the age was one both of experiment and of reaction, and we are constantly being surprised by fresh study of nature, and by dry memories of the past.
The Antioch of Eutychides, then, forms a convenient index to the problems with which many sculptors were at this time occupied. The best copies of the figure show us a sleek girl seated broadly on a rock, in an attitude the contortion of which only reveals itself on close study. At her foot a youth, the river Orontes, plunges impetuously along: of another river-god by Eutychides, the Eurotas, ancient epigrams exclaim that it is more liquid than water, thus betokening a mimetic tendency such as we have already seen in the statue of Selene: but our copies of Orontes tell us little. The drapery of the demigoddess, in which the different materials are faithfully rendered, is stretched and looped elaborately across the figure and over the rock, so that we are presented not only with the interest of lines running in a number of different directions, and not only with the contrast between smooth and crinkly, but also with that between taut and loose, straight and curved, dry and full; to which confection the rendering of laundry-creases is intended to give additional piquancy. Now at last there is a full, conscious attempt to work out the composition for many points of view, one of the first preoccupations of the modern, which had not before been forced upon sculptors because most statues were made to be set up with sides and back away from the spectator. Even in the fourth century there are many works in which lateral and even three-quarter views have been little considered, and many which, like the Hermes of Praxiteles, compose well from one point, the frontal, well enough from a second, third, or fourth, and poorly from the others.
The Apoxyomenos, we may recall, is for us the link between old and new. It carried on the tradition of the standing athletic statue, but broke away from it with the bold projection of its right arm into the third dimension, just as the Lansdowne Hermes, which also has the new proportions, small head and wiry limbs, translated an old motive from two dimensions into three. But not all Hellenistic sculptors who set about making statues to be viewed from every aspect always succeeded in doing so. The copy of another, younger Tyche (Tyche is popular in an age of changing fortunes), perhaps also by Eutychides, illustrates a partial failure; charming though she is, the line of the back when seen from her left sags in a curiously frog-like way. One of the most successful compositions of this time and school is the boy taking a thorn from his foot, not the famous bronze of the Capitol, which gives only the body, and owes its head of inconsistent style to Roman taste, but the marble copy (the original was of bronze) in London, where the urchin has his own head. The seated Hermes fromjHerculaneum, which resembles it in many ways, fails in one view, that from his left, whence the back looks excessively heavy, and has legs (partly restored) which would appear too long if he stood up, an interesting contrast in this particular to the old two-dimensional type of seated figure, which usually has thighs too short for nature in order to make a frontal view tolerable. The statue of Hermes is on the whole a successful personification of supple lightness and speed: and the Lysippic school, with its tradition of athletic statues, is naturally happy in its representation of the naked male figure. The heads generally show little evidence of mental life: these and the dry, highly-trained bodies we may suppose characteristic of the athletes of the day.
The Victory found at Samothrace and now in the Louvre is one of the great monuments of this age, and a faithful reflex through one of its facets. The divergence of centuries between the dates proposed for it shows how weak internal evidence can be for dating and classifying in a period when more than a few lines of development are being followed and when old fashions can be adopted at will. It is treated here because of the fragment of an inscription found with it, though since lost, which can hardly have been anything but the signature of the sculptor, since there was no other building near to which it could belong. It was formerly thought that this monument, like the coins issued by Demetrius Poliorcetes, which also bear the device of Victory on a prow, commemorated the naval victory of 306 bc off Salamis in Cyprus. But Samothrace was in enemy hands then and for years after. Nor do any of the coin-dies show evidence of having been actually copied from the statue: not only will the position of the arms have been different, but the drapery on the coins is that of an ordinary running figure conceived and worked out in the manner of the fourth century, with no hint of the alighting movement of the statue. In face of these arguments, another occasion for the dedication has been sought, and Studniczka has proposed the decisive event of the Second Syrian War, the battle of Cos (c. 258 bc), in which the triple alliance of Antigonus, Antiochus II and Rhodes was victorious over Ptolemy II. This explains the general resemblance to the coins, for the statue thus becomes a dedication of filial piety by Antigonus; it explains, as is pointed out above, the erection on Samothrace, otherwise inexplicable in the third century and with difficulty explicable in the second. For Samothrace was Arsinoe’s island, captured in this Second Syrian War by Antiochus. At Cos Antigonus was taking revenge for the Chremonidean War, and Antiochus for his father’s losses in the First Syrian War, in both of which Arsinoe’s influence had been dominant. And it justifies the commissioning of a Rhodian artist; while the date seems more suitable for the style than any yet proposed.
It may be urged that the date is unimportant for the appreciation of it as a work of art. But even if it gains no more aesthetic significance from being dated, it gains interest as the work of a member of the Rhodian school of this time, and for the comparison it affords with the work which Pergamene sculptors were soon to produce. It has been shown that the coins of Demetrius represent Victory on a despoiled prize, a parallel to the common representation, especially common at this time, of Victory setting up a trophy of captured armour. But the Samothracian monument, like Antigonus’ dedication of his flagship, instead of hulks, on Delos, refines this motive. Cos was fought during the Isthmia, and here Victory brings to the Isthmia, the victorious flagship, the Isthmian victor’s crown. No longer the calm messenger of Olympus, but the stormy partisan, her feet now touch deck, and poised, with wings still beating, she is carried on with the onward surge of the vessel, the breeze driving the cloak against and across her tense forward leg and eddying in the light folds of her dress. The figure is strongly built; the powerful wings suggest more successfully than ever before organic articulation with the body, and are ably balanced by the deep breasts and massive chest. An extremely clever study of body and drapery combined in movement: solid and bright on the one side; fluttering, shadowy, almost feathery on the other; finical perhaps in some details, but still without detriment to the main conception, which, with its bold transverse bars of shadow and great upward wrench from the waist, as of one flung hither and thither by the currents of battle and then torn by main force from the enemy, is highly sensational, because violent emotion was to be expressed.
A further development in drapery which may have culminated in the Rhodian school about 200 bc, is that of making the folds of the under-garment show through the upper, a subtle inversion of flavour from the old heavy cloak fully masking or fully revealing the chiton. Matron and maiden from Herculaneum show the first traces of the new fashion. A figure in relief from the altar of the temple of Athena Polias at Priene, though not necessarily later, is in a more advanced stage, and proves that the tendency goes back at least to the beginning of the third century, if not to the end of the fourth; while the climax is reached in a statue from Magnesia now in Constantinople. But at Pergamum, in the early second century, on the great frieze transparent over-drapery does not occur: on the smaller frieze it is used discreetly. We must therefore assume either that it was fallingout of fashion or that it was not yet perfected when they were carved. And when we remember that it was never an exclusive style, others everywhere appearing beside it, and that it was not Pergamene in origin; that extreme renderings like the statue from Magnesia were probably abnormalities without wide vogue, and that our evidence points to the beginnings of the fashion a century before—then we may be persuaded that it was reaching its full development during the third century, and shall probably not be far wrong in assigning a statue of Polyhymnia, in other ways related to the two Tychai by Eutychides, but with transparent over-drapery, to the end of that century.
The origins of the groups of Muses of which we have copies are extremely uncertain, and although the head of another Muse is illustrated here for its sweet but not cloying beauty, no direct connection with that of Polyhymnia is implied. Brother of Polyhymnia is a satyr boy (several copies of a lost original furnish his various parts) who, having just discovered the existence of his tail (tail-consciousness doubtless being one of the concomitants of satyric pubescence), twists himself round in order to gain a glimpse of it, and smiles whimsically at the perverse fate which will never grant full success to his efforts. The motive may seem trivial, but shows genuine feeling, and the movements of the lithe young body are carefully studied and expressed. The warmth of the modelling and the elasticity both of the taut abdomen and of the folds on the back are equally admirable. Here (with a spiral composition) the silhouettes are not especially satisfying: more noticeably than, for example, in the Hermes resting, the beauty of the various aspects depends on a steady consciousness of the third dimension, into which eye and mind are continually being led.
No account, however short, of the activities of the Rhodian school can close without reference to two famous works of art connected with Rhodes.
The punishment of Dirce, a group made at the end of the second century bc by Apollonius and Tauriscus of Tralles (adopted sons of one of the sculptors of the great Pergamene frieze) for the city of Rhodes, has survived in a much restored and altered copy of the third century ad. It is an attempt to represent plastically a group of persons, a bull, and a portion of the surrounding country. Its success is with difficulty estimated owing to the fragmentary condition of the piece. All we can say is that though the views from all points have been considered by the sculptor, and an approximately pyramidal composition attained by poising some of the figures ingeniously on rocks (as in another group of the time which has been discovered at Pergamum), one main aspect is intended.
On the other hand the group of Laocoon and his sons, by Agesander, Athenodorus and Polydorus of Rhodes, is designed like a relief and intended to be set against a wall. The proportions of the limbs are adjusted for this purpose in such a way that the exaggeration is not obvious in a frontal view, though some uneasiness may be felt about the size of the torso. Of the aesthetic significance of the group, which Pliny has not been alone in ranking unhesitatingly as the greatest work of art in the world, it is difficult to speak, so detached do we now feel from its horror. Its spirit seems most like that of the second Attalid dedication at the end of the first Pergamene school, though it has something in common with the great frieze of the altar: actually it is at least a hundred years later than either. In judging it we must discount patching and retouching, which have spoilt both the compactness and the swing of the composition by raising Laocoon’s right arm too high, and have intruded several discordant details. But the main conception we are able to estimate with reasonable accuracy: and the contrast between the mighty straining of the grown man, tried to the utmost, and the tense elasticity of the elder son which acts as a foil to it and to the crumpled body of the younger, will not fail of their effect. Nor can we disregard the unsurpassed technical skill, even when we are asking ourselves what there is besides.
THE FIRST PERGAMENE SCHOOL
The struggle between the Pergamene kingdom, under Attalus I, and the Gauls, was not the first occasion in Greek history when a desperate war had been accompanied by a blossoming of great and austere sculpture. In Greece proper the end of the Persian Wars of the early fifth century witnessed such a phenomenon; and there can be little doubt that in Pergamum the cathartic effects of a period of trial followed by the call for commemorative monuments, together with the provision of new subjects, gave the needed stimulus to an art which, efficient enough technically, tended to lack a supply of significant material and a high and serious purpose.
The name First Pergamene school has been given to a group of sculptors who produced, between 240 and 225 bc, the great thanksgiving dedications for the victories of Attalus I over Antiochus and the Gauls. Fragmentary inscriptions from the bases of these have been found at Pergamum, which,, when brought into relation with a statement of Pliny, seem to show that Isigonus was one of the sculptors, and perhaps Antigonus another, for these two names are among the four given by him for the dedications of Attalus and Eumenes, and the endings -gonus of two signatures have been preserved.
The groups themselves, scenes of
battle, are best known to us from the dying Gaul of the Capitol, the statue
(from the Ludovisi collection, now in the Museo delle Terme) of a Gaul who, at
bay, turns the sword against himself after having killed his wife, the head of
a dead man in Asiatic headdress, a torso at Dresden, a head at Cairo, as well
as many other fragments. They may have been made soon after the originals themselves,
and though they vary in excellence and cannot reproduce fully the original
freshness of touch, yet, as copies, they reach a high level.
The original statues evidently embodied close studies of racial types and of muscular action, rest and motion being carefully differentiated. There is, generally, a spareness in the modelling, and the planes tend to be large and flat with dry hollows; as though representing a skin like hide, stretched over a frame meagrely padded, far different from the thin skin which comes of a genial climate, and covers the rippling evenly-developed musculature of the Greek in the convention of the fourth-century sculptors. In proportions the figures are somewhat less slender than the Lysippic, though the heads would seem small were it not for their long wild hair. The conceptions (and it should be noticed that even from the copies some differences in the personalities of the sculptors may be deduced) show a tendency to the ostentatious mitigated by the soberness and sympathy with which emotion is delineated in the faces. There are no traces of any attempt to belittle the enemy. In the compositions the use of bronze has encouraged considerable freedom: there is no hesitation in representing great strides, unsupported limbs, or hanging drapery; and bold projections and recessions are not avoided. Altogether a series in which high technical ability, invention, and fresh anatomical study supplementing a traditional scheme are still the means of expressing aesthetic emotion.
A dedication of about the same date as the first Pergamene symbolizes through an old Phrygian myth the victory of culture over barbarism, whence we may suppose that it was set up somewhere in the Pergamene kingdom and refers to the Attalid repulse of the Gauls. This myth had been treated before in Greek art, but never in such a way as to suggest its horror. Myron’s bronze group, made about the middle of the fifth century, showed the first incident, where Athena flings away the disfiguring pipes: from a design of Praxiteles, or, as some will have it, by his grandson, the second, that of the contest between Apollo and Marsyas, was modelled in relief; Apollo waiting, Marsyas piping madly: and now the third, the penalty, is represented by a group of three figures, the god seated, the Silen bound by hands and feet to a tree, and the flayer crouching to whet his knife. The statue of Apollo is preserved only in a torso and a sketch on a marble disk: he sits almost languidly, his arm over his head: Marsyas, half-animal resigned to an unintelligible fate, yet belongs to a higher type than the barbarous Scythian, who looks up with dull wonder and a hint of pity. Even here, though there is a pathos lacking in the earlier representations of the subject, the physical horror is inherent, not explicit. It remained for the next generation to make Marsyas fully human and fully conscious of the coming torture, to simulate the straining body with red-streaked marble, to elaborate swollen veins and sweat- drenched hair, and so to transform the drama from tragedy into Grand Guignol.
This later phase of the first Pergamene school we are helped to define by another great dedication of Attalus I, a series of bronze statues, under life-size, set up on the parapet of the Acropolis at Athens at the end of the century. Greeks, Gauls, Amazons, Persians, Giants and Gods were the subjects, and if the copies we have are typical, they were represented in every conceivable attitude of violent attack, defence, pain, death and terror. Epigonus may be the sculptor responsible for that extreme of pity where her child seeks its milk at the breast of a dead Amazon. Throughout, no device to stir the spectator is neglected. Yet he is left, in the main, cold and detached.
The grouping, now lost, no doubt helped the effect. The figures are copies and have suffered in the copying and in the translation from bronze to marble. Restorations and working-over have marred or misrepresented actions and details. The small scale makes them remote from reality. All this is true. But even so, are there not fundamental causes for their failure? The sculptors of the first dedication will by now have been passing. These are pupils or imitators, and they are overcome by their inheritance. No thought can be perfectly expressed more than once. How originate new feelings or new formulae when the same subjects have been rendered in a masterly way not many years before ?
To disguise deficiency of feeling the sculptors have expressed all they knew, keeping nothing in reserve and leaving nothing to the imagination. And they have repeated the formulae twice as loud, in the hope that they will be, if not twice, at least more than half, as effective. The result is that the figures, with some exceptions, being occupied not only with the fight but with the onlooker, attitudinize, and instead of feeling genuine emotion, exhibit a conventional substitute for it.
But the torso of a warrior, a Gaul whose helmet lies by his side, at Athens, from Delos, an original contemporary with the second Pergamene dedication, is an astonishing piece of work which gives us fuller understanding of both first and second dedications. It is not in the taste of the fifth century nor yet of the fourth, but of its kind it is excellent, and for sheer technical ability it is unsurpassed. It helps us also to an appreciation of the group of Menelaus and the dead Patroclus, and of the pendant, lately reconstructed, Achilles and Penthesilea, which resembles in general construction the group of the Ludovisi Gaul. The originals of these will have been made in the last quarter of the third century. Both, known to us from copies only, depend for their effect on the physiological contrast between tension and relaxation, and on the pathetic contrast between the vibrant living body and the poor limp corpse; to which is added, especially in the second group, a strong sentimental interest.
Statues of this date have been criticized on the ground that they show too much of what lies beneath the surface, as though they had been flayed, or that the modelling is too emphatic. But it is not exactly that the skin appears to have been removed or that convexes have been unduly inflated and hollows made unduly concave, though some exaggeration of the contours may be detected: it is rather that certain features have been brought further forward from the main mass than is reasonable. The effect is not so much of normal strain, however great, as of a kind of morbid protrusion.
The need of new subjects has already been mentioned. The satyr, much favoured in the archaic age, fallen somewhat into neglect in the classical, and perhaps over-humanized in the fourth century, lives again now as an organic creature and becomes a vehicle of new ideas. A satyr-world with its own life again springs up, more credible than the world of gods, more interesting to the artist than yesterday’s fight with the Gauls, which, even when Gauls were a new subject, closely resembled for the most part those other fights so often and so well depicted for centuries. Thus a large proportion of the tolerable Hellenistic statues represent satyrs. One, which seems to be Pergamene of the later third century, is reproduced by the dancing satyr from Pompeii: a masterpiece of rhythmic movement, to which details like the snapping fingers, curling tail (more nervous no doubt in the original) and tossing flamy beard all contribute. Its composition exemplifies one of the schemes which tend to afford satisfactory views from every point, that of the spiral: the plane of the legs swings into that of the abdomen, and this in turn, retarded, slides into that of the chest and arms; the spiral is checked and split by the two planes of the neck, one of which accelerates while the other gently reverses it, and is capped by the head, a well-poised finial. A similar plan is followed at the back with the planes of legs, buttocks and shoulders. But the statuette is naturally susceptible of many analyses, for a thousand thoughts have gone to its making; and this sketch of one of the main schemes serves only as partial explanation of its resiliency.
Then, too, as a kind of variation on the main theme of the conflict between Greeks and barbarians, or Gods and giants, come conflicts on a smaller scale, yet no less serious, of the satyrs of Dionysus with giants (possibly though not probably belonging to the smaller Attalid dedication), and the more intimate struggles between old satyr and hermaphrodite, young satyr and nymph. Although the small satyrs who fight and die in the coils of their snake-footed opponents reflect the heroic postures of the Attalid dedications, the heads are close and clever studies of low types of boy. But their agony is genuine enough. The other two groups are playful, one might almost say innocent. The young satyr is an animal who takes his repulse in good part. The hermaphrodite is simply a country girl, untroubled by moral misgivings, though glad to escape from the inconvenient attentions of the old satyr.
It is noteworthy that the scale and subject of many of these pieces fit them for the decoration of a private house or garden. In this individualistic and commercial age the call for purely religious dedications loses strength; memorials of victory, of civic or royal pride, are in demand, and precious pieces for the cabinets and shrines of princes or wealthy private citizens.
THE SECOND AND FIRST CENTURIES
The first half of the second century is not marked by any falling-off of creative activity. New subjects, or subjects regarded with new eyes, are now exploited: youth and age, complexes like the hermaphrodite, ‘sweet marble monster of both sexes’, or the older Pan, satyr, triton, centaur, are submitted to psychological as well as physiological study, and are invested with a subtlety of meaning they have not hitherto borne. Groups suggesting complex emotions are invented; introspection thrives.
The Pergamene kingdom and other flourishing cities, especially those of Asia Minor, no doubt continued during this period to attract numbers of artists from abroad. Inscriptions and literary records furnish the names of sculptors of other schools than that which was flourishing at Pergamum, and some of their works we can identify with probability: while we can also from time to time detect other styles than the Pergamene in statues to which no name or nationality can, on external evidence, be attached. One Polycles, of Athens, made in bronze an hermaphrodite which met with the approval, passed on to us by Pliny, of some ancient critic. The hermaphrodite apparently most often copied is a delicately modelled figure, like a slender long-limbed woman, with something of the monstrous in the tapering skull, who lies stretched prone, stirring in an uneasy sleep. A copy in the Museo delle Terme in Rome seems to preserve the touches which made the original bronze effective. The complicated hair has a twisted band and a gem braided into it, its roots on the temples are wiry, and it will have been executed with minute crisp chasing; the forehead, brows, nose and mouth are worked out in flattish planes which pass into one another at sharp angles, and the drapery is stretched in order to produce, for the most part, flat or tubular folds of simple section, and narrow, sharp hollows.
We may perhaps recognize here a copy of the bronze of Polycles made about 200 bc (though there is little to tie the style to Athens), and we can give to the same sculptor an Eros, superficially alike but subtly differentiated, supine, easy, carefree; a saucy boy, his mischief sleep-surprised, like his ranging hands. It is interesting to compare with this rendering of childhood the boy made by Boethus of Chalcedon not many years later. There is about the same degree of naturalism in the body, but the head of Eros, who seems the elder of the two, is less dependent on tradition and shows more evidently the careful study of a model. Boethus’ boy struggles with a goose, a common domestic pet in a country where dogs were outcast, and the scene, like much of the modelling, will have been taken direct from life. But it is by no means devoid of monumental feeling, being broad and restrained, though at the same time not uninteresting. Boethus was famous as a worker in metal, and a bronze fragment signed by him, the support of a statue, has survived: from its nature a piece of conventional archaism, it tells little of his own style but only of an excellent technique.
We have called the hermaphrodite woman-like, but the feminine ideal of the time was rather the statue of which the Capitoline Aphrodite is a copy, too succulent, or the bathing Aphrodite of Doedalsas of Bithynia, too fleshy for modern taste. The motive of the first is that of the Cnidian Aphrodite of Praxiteles, coarsened to vulgarity by a century and a half of currency; that of the second is borrowed from the women’s bath, whatever its ritual application: in attitude it resembles the slave in the Marsyas group, and the one surviving head among the copies which shows any appreciable style indicates that we are well on in the third century if not already in the second.
Parallel to the study of children is the study of old men and women; and often these, too, are presented humorously. Myron of Thebes has left an inscription at Pergamum which may have belonged to one of the Attalid dedications. But other traces of his work there are lost, and he is known to us only by the copies of a statue, in bronze, of a drunken old woman, set up at Smyrna. In the fable, the old woman sees the jar as an image of herself:
O suavis anima! quale in te dicam bonum
Antehac fuisse, tales cum sint reliquiae?
Hoc quo pertineat, dicet, qui me noverit.
In the statue, the two are one. The composition is something between pyramid and cone; the drapery cascades down the sides into an agitated pool, so that the body appears to be floating, while the head swims. The results of age have been studied, but there has been strict selection and emphasis of details for the purpose of conveying certain effects, and nothing like exact reproduction has been attempted.
From the groups we choose two music lessons, Pan instructing Olympus and Chiron Achilles. Of the first, the copy in Naples is most complete, but, being of the second century a.d. it does not afford trustworthy evidence for the technique of the original. This is a new conception of Pan, no longer a human being with accidental animal traits, but an entity terrifyingly harmonious. Ingenious, even in the copies, are the contrasts between full virility and tender boyishness, between rough shag, or lank hircine beard, and rippling curls, between hoarse urgency and tremulous doubt. Adroit, the relief of erotic strife cut, scholias- tically, on the pipes.
No less ingenious must have been the contrasts in the companion group of the centaur Chiron teaching young Achilles to play the lyre, now lost but for paintings and a good copy in marble of the head of Chiron. See how, even in the head alone, his nature and something of his history are sculptured: how the horse is suggested in the sensitive ears and dilated nostrils (the clownish tip of the nose shown in the photograph was modern and is now removed), in the loose strands on the back of the neck, and in those below the right ear, which, mane-like, are tossed round with the movement of the head: how the hair is thinning on the crown; how the tutor of old heroes turns sharply, almost incredulous, with a wry look of mingled anger and pain, at the discordant note struck by this young generation. We must notice the technical freedom of the sculptor, and the facility with which he now handles his masses in three dimensions. They are abstracted from nature and treated, in the spirit of the baroque, as so much material for producing effects. The right eyebrow sheers away in a spiral; the beard is pulled not only from side to side, but backwards and forwards; the forehead is drawn this way and that and corrugated arbitrarily.
The Pan and Chiron groups, judged on internal evidence, were by the same sculptor: what external evidence there is tells against their having been made by one Heliodorus, a Rhodian of the second century, who, according to Pliny, made a group of Pan and Olympus; for the two pendants are also mentioned by Pliny separately as being of unknown authorship. However that may be, those we have been studying were made in the first half of the second century and probably in the second quarter, and they seem to be the product of a second Pergamene school with whose most pretentious monument we now have to deal.
The medium admirably employed in the two musical groups by a vigorous and interested mind in order to express a living idea, proves spiritless in the hands of those set to represent an old-fashioned subject which has, for them, no reality. Such is the Great Frieze. The pageant creaks by entertainingly enough, animated by the self-confidence of its highly-skilled manipulators. Each actor wears the correct clothes, is furnished with the correct attributes, and goes through the appropriate motions with the correct weapons. It is a triumph of virtuosity, and as empty and humourless as only virtuosi could make it. There is no decay of technique: indeed the handling of the marble is as skilful as it has ever been, and more daring. The sense of design is strong. But the basic idea is not believed, and therefore is not made believable. ‘The first boar that is well made in marble should be preserved as a wonder. When men arrive at a facility of making boars well then the workmanship is not of such value.’ The devices which help to conceal the fundamental deficiency of inspiration need no detailed analysis—the splendid wings deployed, the tumid muscles, the curly snakes with jaws that snap, the woolly dogs, the pantomime lions. Nevertheless the school of sculptors which produced the great frieze of the altar, reached, in those statues found at Pergamum which may reasonably be attributed to it, among some affectations and eccentricities, a living and consistent style, which displays itself even in their copies of older works. If its statues are not grand, most are grandiose. The bodies are full, strong and erect. The main arrangements of drapery may be unduly artificial or merely conventional, but there is often a rhythmic swirl in the smaller folds which, with the crisp carving, saves them from dullness. Women’s heads are massive and sensuous, with deep swimming eyes, and yearning mouths in which one sees the emotional intake of breath. The sculptors have studied Scopas, but have combined with his manner an impressionism carried further than by Praxiteles.
The great external frieze of the altar may commemorate the battle of Magnesia, which greatly augmented the power of Eumenes II, and may thus have been made soon after 190: other possible dates for it are something under ten and something over twenty years later, to commemorate victories over the Gauls. It may be that the external frieze celebrates Magnesia, and the frieze within the columned hall of the altar one of these later series of victories. Certainly the smaller frieze, with its circumstantial account of the life of Telephus, the mythical founder of Pergamum, is the innovator, and shows a narrative method which argues some previous development. We must pause to examine what traces of this there may be. The evidence is remarkably scanty, for most Hellenistic reliefs that have survived are difficult to date, and many belong to old types which tell us nothing. Nor is this the place to discuss the question of what influence predominates in the various reliefs (mostly copies) which we do possess, in marble, in stucco, and on the now popular vessels of precious metal. Sufficient to say that, although a rough classification is not impossible, no completely satisfactory localization has yet been carried out. There is a class of rural scenes into which various landscape and architectural elements have been introduced: some of these can be grouped as having the same origin; and there are also smallergroups; but, generally speaking, each relief must be analysed carefully by itself before being rigidly attached to one class.
We shall therefore confine ourselves to a few remarks on the new factors which are now apparent, and in order to make these clear we must look back for a moment to the fifth century, where almost any relief will serve as an example. There the scene was worked in from a front plane to a background which actually varied in depth according to the sculptor’s eye, but ideally was infinite. In the next stage, that of certain reliefs in the fourth century, the figures seem to be built up on a given flat background. This, in theory, was still unlimited in depth, was free air in which the figures stood; but when working in this method it was difficult for the sculptor to fight free of the background and suggest roundness where it did not actually exist.
The next stage is that which was reached during the Hellenistic age. It may owe its origin to the increasing fondness for groups, since the difficulty of working out the composition of a group of two or more detached figures for many points of view seems to lead back to the provision of a background and the relimitation to one aspect. It was undoubtedly helped by painting. Relief thus might appear to be at the same stage as in the fifth century, and the free figures to be paralleled by those in a pediment. But in pediments the heavy cornices provided an ideal background of shadow, and the need for relating it to the figures did not arise. Now, the types created for free sculpture are offered a background: which background also, if one may so express it, being in the round, must be treated as part of the scene. And here are difficulties which have been sometimes skilfully evaded but never completely overcome in marble, in spite of the great assistance received from the discoveries made by painters. The problem will be clearer if we take an example, a relief from Corinth probably of the third century. The traditional frame of columns surmounted by entablature and roof-tiles, taken over complete from reliefs of the late fifth century onwards: inside it a scene of sacrifice. A god and goddess are seen against a curtain. To their altar comes a family of worshippers.
Notice first the difficulties of scale. The goddess is smaller than the god, not merely because she is younger, but in order to suggest greater distance from the spectator; next come the man and wife, represented, in accordance with tradition, on a smaller scale, together with children and acolyte of appropriate sizes; and finally, against the tree which bounds the composition on the left are seen two figures, of onlookers or intending worshippers, on a smaller scale still, to suggest that they are not yet approaching the altar. The two images on a distant column need not concern us, since they are not brought into close enough relation with any of the living figures for their size to be a matter of importance. But the other discrepancies will be found disturbing. The mind can compass the divine and human scales (it naturally makes its standard the human) and can tolerate the difference between the god and his daughter. But what of the relation of the various figures to the old and knotted plane-tree? A few more points call for notice. The deities are sculptural types transferred direct to the relief. The little distant onlookers are like terracotta statuettes taken bodily and placed in the corner. Curtain and tree conveniently mask a landscape which would need a number of pictorial devices to collate it with the main scene; and it will constantly be found, from now onwards, that the sculptor uses wall or curtain to block his background and bring his relief virtually into two main planes again.
In the great frieze of the Pergamene altar the designer has made his figures almost in the round, but has obscured his background with bodies, wings and serpent coils. And the small frieze accepts the condition of a landscape background only in part. As in many other Hellenistic reliefs, some of its peculiarities and many of its faults arise from a mistaken attempt to imitate painting. To this are due the frontal, three-quarter, and profile heads not in the front plane, which lack rotundity and appear to have been sliced off and mounted on a slab: and it shows itself clearly in the perspective, in the different sizes of the figures and the different levels at which they are set, and in the attempt to render figures or objects in a farther plane, an attempt which will always fail because the sculptor has not at his command those devices of light and shade which assist the painter to represent distance, but is confined to a marble block which cannot be cut back indefinitely, and cannot be given such a surface as will suggest objects less clear because more distant. The position of this relief in the columned hall even shows that it is, in a sense, the substitute for a painting, and explains why the outer frieze departs less from sculptural tradition. We do not find, and hardly expect to find, such innovations in external friezes of the order, which merely follow the conventions and grouping of the fourth century, though the figures are usually in rather higher relief. The frieze of the temple of Artemis at Magnesia, to take but one example, is nothing but so many yards of a stock wall-covering.
About the middle of the second century, in the Peloponnese, a new sculptor, Damophon of Messene, came into prominence. He had not full measure of either the exuberant self-confidence or the skill of the Pergamene sculptors, and he is therefore more dependent than they were on older models. His name stands out more than it should because of its isolation and because some of the cities on the mainland could now again afford to give commissions for imposing cult-statues. One of his groups, Demeter and Kore enthroned and flanked by standing figures of Artemis and a local giant, Anytus, has been excavated at Lycosura, and by the aid of these fragments a colossal head in the Capitoline Museum at Rome has also been identified as his. We thus possess ample material for passing a judgment on his style, which, without imitating the Pergamene, is not yet entirely independent of it. It also draws elements from masterpieces of the fourth and fifth centuries. In the head of the Capitoline the broad oval face recalls Pheidias, the eyes are short, wide-open, and more overhung by the brows than would have been possible with him. The mouth is short, in the manner of the fifth century, but more fleshy and set more seductively: the hair recalls older fashions, yet could not belong to any time before its own. One wonders whether the sculptor was trying to remember or trying to forget what his predecessors had done.
The general conceptions imitate those of the cult-statues of the fifth century, in colossal scale, in corresponding simplification of modelling, and probably in some attempt to reproduce the effect of gold and ivory by giving a high polish to the surface of the flesh. At Lycosura some of the drapery, cleverly worked in marble, copies richly embroidered stuff: yet not directly: the sculptor seems to have in mind the embossed and inlaid golden drapery of such statues as the Parthenos and the Zeus of Pheidias. The rest of the drapery is feebly conceived and executed in a niggling way: the limbs are structureless. Evidently the carving of these large masses of marble was left to assistants, who no longer maintained a high standard.
The adjective eclectic has been applied to this kind of sculpture. If we use it we must be aware of its meaning. Granted that there has been a selection of features from older sculpture, we must still try to determine how far they are stolen bodily, how far they are understood and fused into an organic whole; how far the new style lives. In the work of Damophon the elements chosen were incongruous, and therefore the results are inharmonious and not satisfying: but the effort to digest them was far more conscientious than in the baser form of eclecticism which we shall encounter in the first century bc. Thus the label eclectic must be attached with the consciousness that it may cover varying degrees of crudity.
The work of Damophon is to some extent symptomatic of a new movement widespread if not universal, sedulous study of the past. The forms in which this study manifests itself may be said to be two, which however graduate into one another—the borrowing of older elements which are worked up into a more or less homogeneous but somewhat nerveless academic style, and the borrowing of older types which are modified and worked out in detail in the style of the day, which itself is inevitably though less consciously influenced by the past, and so has more claim to be considered an evolutionary growth, and generally shows greater vitality. To judge from what remains the one form was prevalent on the mainland, the other outside it. There is hardly a better example of this taking of an old type and modifying it than the Aphrodite from Melos. The original was a statue at Corinth, of the late fourth century: it is reproduced on coins, and the Venus from Capua in the museum at Naples is a tolerably accurate Roman copy. It represented Aphrodite naked to the waist, the shield of Ares propped on her thigh so as to hold her drapery, admiring her beauty in its burnished surface. Before her stood Eros. It will at once be noticed, even if the line of the plinth of the Capuan copy and the coins did not indicate it, that this group was intended by the original sculptor to be seen, ordinarily, from one view, that with the head of Aphrodite almost in profile towards the right. The sculptor of the Melian statue (one ...sandros, Agesandros or Alexandros, son of Menides of Antioch on the Maeander) in the mid-second century borrows the old type, obliterates Eros and the shield, lowers the right arm to hold up the drapery, and the left to rest on a tall column (with the hand holding an apple, the canting device of Melos), broadens the hips and the modelling generally, poises the head differently, modernizes the drapery and the composition, changes the point of view. The hair follows an old fashion when compared, for example, with the Pergamene head we have illustrated or with those of the great frieze, but the shapes of eyes and mouth have not been able to escape the new, though its principles are not fully mastered, as we may see by the only partially successful rendering of the half-open mouth. Each sculptor adds what he knows to the old types. One from Ephesus, Agasias, made the statue of a warrior now in the Louvre. It is Lysippic in inspiration, but is worked out with an extraordinary display of anatomical knowledge.
At Athens, sculptors of less merit give evidence of a similar study of the past, resulting in statues less interesting even than those of Damophon. The head of Athena, from a large monument by Eubulides of the second half of the second century, comes near being an exact copy of an earlier statue, while the body of Victory from the same monument shows some attempt at original work; but it lacks any force in the main design, and the details resolve themselves into the meaningless repetition of a few commonplaces.
No promising growth was cut short by the sack of Corinth in 146, which flooded Rome with masterpieces and helped to create that demand for Greek art among Roman connoisseurs which, by keeping alive schools of competent craftsmen both in Rome and in Greece itself, was partially responsible for the production of a few not unpleasing pieces and of a host of mediocrities and worse. Athens now became the home of factories whose object was to supply the Roman market. Their products were not of one class only. Straight copies of various statues, chiefly those old masterpieces still remaining in Greece, were in demand; fancy versions were also made. A specialty was the so-called neo-Attic relief, a large class varying in both quality and subject. One of its series includes Dionysiac processions, usually maenads and satyrs, sometimes Pans and Silens, or nymphs with fluttering draperies, carved in a frankly decorative manner. Earlier votive reliefs usually furnished the models for these; sometimes even architectural sculptures. Another series (which was to grow excessively in the early years of the Roman Empire) was the archaistic. Something like it had been known as far back as the fifth century bc (and after the archaic age the tendency is seldom absent everywhere), but it now sprang up again with great vigour. At its lowest it consists in the use of a number of supposed archaic formulae, polished to excess—affected gestures, swallow-tail drapery, tip-toe gait, exaggerated slenderness—applied again and again to series of figures (identifiable only by their attributes) ranged in meaningless procession. At its best it gives some simple scene—a god standing in his sanctuary, for instance—executed in a somewhat archaic manner, although the attitudes may be far from archaic. The marble furniture on which these reliefs are often found borrows motives from many centuries. Statues in archaistic style, though less common, are not rare.
Probably at this time another group of Athenians (and there are parallels from other centres of art) were turning out statues like the torso Belvedere (signed by Apollonius, son of Nestor), and the bronze boxer of the Terme on whose glove the signature of the same artist has lately been found. The idiom employed here is not entirely original and not spontaneous enough to beget full harmonies. But they are genuine attempts at new creations, and we cannot deny them a restrained and suggestive modelling, brightened by vivid touches of fresh observation which the sculptor’s double sympathy, for past and present, has enabled him to graft on to the older stock.
Other sculptors meanwhile were fulfilling local commissions at or near Athens itself, such as the large but uninspired relief at Eleusis dedicated by Lacrateides about 100, wholly dependent on the past, with no evidence of the study of nature, and burking the problem of depth in relief by its arbitrary arrangement of figures at different levels without regard for perspective; and the Caryatids (one now in the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge) from the propylaea at Eleusis, of some fifty years later, which are crisply carved in a dry, rather similar style. At Rome, too, factories for sculpture were being formed. Pasiteles, writer on art, sculptor and metal-worker, realized the artistic possibilities of clay-modelling, his followers, perhaps he as well, the commercial. Arcesilaus, his contemporary, made clay models and sold them for wholesale reproduction. The work of Pasiteles himself is not known to us, but only that of Stephanus his pupil and of the pupil of Stephanus, Menelaus. We have had occasion to speak of the half-unconscious imitation of older models, and of the frank employment of pseudo-archaic conventions in the commonplace pieces of the neo-Attic school. This is a baser kind of eclecticism. These are not copies of earlier works, though all the elements are old. To judge by what we have of him, it was early classical statues which Stephanus chiefly selected for misuse: a little adjustment of the limbs in the direction of greater elegance and of the features in that of so-called refinement, a little tampering with proportions, a little sugaring over, and the thing could be passed off as a new creation. Sometimes it is combined with its fellows in groups of a vapid sentimentality. Compared with the bronze boxer this kind of statue is dead and meaningless. It results from a classical revival, accompanied by the usual mistaken belief that it is possible toimitate form without understanding it, and followed by the customary confusion between the classical and the academic.
Better in some ways than the boy of Stephanus, or at least with more claim to originality, is the big group by Menelaus in the Terme, with its reminiscences of various periods. But stolen goods are difficult to handle, and there is ludicrous discord in the scale: either Orestes is undergrown or Electra a giantess.
We may conclude this survey with a word on portraits. Throughout these three centuries portraiture (if we except that of women) never failed to reach a high level. The selection of coins in the Volume of Plates (164) may serve to give some idea of its widespread excellence; the two or three heads in the round are taken from many of almost equal merit, and the last, the head of Pompey, for its characterization, for interest without excessive detail, and for generalization without dullness, is worthy to stand beside any of its predecessors.
We have already mentioned the statue of Demosthenes, and the interrelation of its parts. Whenever the bodies of these Hellenistic portrait statues are preserved, it will be found that they not only harmonize with the main conception of the character of the subject, but enrich and elucidate it.
Painting, at the beginning of the Hellenistic age, is in a very different situation from sculpture. Sculpture had gone far towards exhausting its always limited repertory: painting had not explored half its sphere. Sculpture had had at its disposal since its first few years every important medium; at the end of the fourth century it had mastered almost every technical device: painting had been limiting itself to a few methods, and a few colours, and had not grasped the full possibilities of tonality. Since sculpture had taken three centuries or more to realize fully the third dimension, although its medium was tridimensional, it is no surprise that painting had not long achieved the rendering of the human figure in space and was only half way towards one of the solutions of spatial as against two-dimensional composition. Thus with new possibilities and new problems to interest him, the Hellenistic painter is not driven, like the sculptor, to the elaboration of old technique or to the search for new subjects.
Painting had been in constant touch with sculpture and it still derives some of its types thence. But to speak generally, we are in a painter’s world, and though the old sculptural monumentality and the old expressive contours are not forgotten, the grouping of figures, their relations in space, and their colouring are now the dominant interests. On the other hand, landscape, as we think of it, is not yet conceived.
Our information is mainly derived from wall-paintings of Roman period, chiefly at Pompeii and Herculaneum, which many times clearly misrepresent the Greek originals which they copy; and we are therefore limited to the consideration of comparatively few, namely those which we have reason to believe are accurate reproductions of masterpieces. More or less worthless versions of great pictures, and worthless versions of what seem mediocre pictures abound. These we are obliged to leave aside.
Of the masterpieces we select first one of the third century, that of Achilles in Scyros, known to us best from a Pompeian reproduction, how accurate we cannot altogether tell. The story is that of how Achilles’ mother Thetis hid him among the daughters of Lycomedes, how Odysseus and Diomedes, disguised as merchants, made their way into the palace, and displayed the divine armour made for him by Hephaestus, how at a sign the trumpeter blows the alarm; Achilles, forgetful of his part, leaps instinctively to arms and is seized by his comrades, while Dei- dameia starts back in alarm and Lycomedes looks up to heaven. This, the very climax of the action, is the moment chosen by the painter. We cannot do more than point out some of the means by which he has been able to represent it successfully. The scene takes place against an architectural background, columns, curtains, open doors—night outside—with a guard, he too part of the architecture, before each of the two central columns. The centre (part of the picture is missing on the left) of this upper and further stage (for the scene is arranged in two principal planes) is held by Lycomedes; and his sceptre and the staff of Odysseus, with which it is parallel, serve to relate the two and to make a diagonal division in space which encloses the two main actors and counteracts a certain centrifugal tendency in the subject.
We may notice a few other points: the patterns and expressions of arms and legs, the use of shields, behind as a repeating geometrical motive, in front as a focalizing and compacting shape. One thing it is most important to notice; the exceedingly skilful colour-scheme, conceived almost as a modern painter might conceive it, with a limited scale, wonderful harmony of tones, and accented rather in the way that he might accent it. The bodies of Odysseus and Diomedes are of a warm brown, the shield—the device on which, Achilles’ training in manhood at the hands of the noble centaur Chiron, sums up the underlying theme of the whole picture—a brown warmer still, verging on red: Achilles’ body is much lighter, almost pink, and gives back less metallic reflections, as through soft living and too much shade: his head and shoulders are thrown up against the pale green of his own dress and the light pinkish brown of Lycomedes’ cloak. Deidameia’s body is framed in a mantle of palest lilac and white shadowed with green. This is the whole range: white, olive green, pale green, pale lilac, pink, chestnut red, and several shades down to a dark brown. How much of this harmony is due to the original painter, how much to the Pompeian copyist ? We do not know.
In a villa at Boscoreale is a great wall-painting, not a simple panel-picture, but a full decoration, in a painted architectural setting which, with the conventional scarlet background, serves to detach the figures from real life. Its meaning is not clear, but some of the figures seem to be portraits of members of the Macedonian court in the second half of the third century. The copyist, working perhaps not much more than a hundred years after the original painter, has preserved much of his spirit. There is no action, yet there is no lack of interest. The main forms and the attitudes are broad and heroic, the details are throbbing with life; over all there breathes a rarefied, almost an Olympian air. This is Hellenistic painting at its best: complete master of its medium, yet entirely without ostentation.
We pass on some years, but are perhaps still in the third century with a great picture of the enslavement of Heracles by Omphale, painted by an artist of Asia Minor, copied for a Pompeian house some two or three hundred years later.
There is no background here; figures fill, almost crowd, the field; less than a quarter above is filled by a plain light greenish blue which finds echoes throughout the draperies, and passes through yellow to brown and red. The centre is held by the gigantic figure of Heracles, out-topping the rest by a head, his body almost bare, a rich, light bronze, his head turned aside, vine-crowned, but in anguish, with the shaded side thrown up against a bright cymbal, which tortures the ear with its senseless din, like the shrill tuneless piping of the insectile Eros on the other side. His arm rests round the shoulders of a sly, sensual olding, Priapus; else he would reel: a swinish satyr brings up the rear of this rout, which is only four strong with three Erotes, and yet so disposed as to seem a noisy throng. Foil to this is the group on the right, again four; three heads and one full-length figure arranged so as to recede into the depth of the picture: the snake-like satisfaction of Omphale bedizened with the lion’s spoils and holding the mighty club, a dark attendant whose gaze follows hers staringly and emphasizes it, a girl looking up at Heracles, and another, with sensitive mouth and eyes cast down, troubled, not liking to see so great a man in such company, as when one blushes to see a good actor in a bad part.
We come now to the copy (from Herculaneum) of a great picture of the Pergamene school, identified as such by both subject and style; one would say of the second century and therefore nearly contemporary with the Great Altar, but superior to it in feeling. On a rocky ledge, and like carved rock herself, is seated a goddess, vast and grand, whose eyes look into the distance. Mountainous, for the clear coldness of the drapery is like a mountain-peak, though flower-crowned and fruitful, she sits there for ever. She takes no part in .the action, but is herself the scene. If any help in identifying her were needed, the satyr’s head and crook are the symbols of Arcadia on its coins. Beneath her, and as it were to her side of the picture, sits the infant Telephus, marvellously suckled by a hind, miraculously guarded by an eagle. Heracles, his father, has been divinely led to the spot and dimly feels the wonder and the portent. The theme is the glorification of the Attalid house, and the story of Telephus occurs not only on the small frieze of the Great Altar but on Pergamene coins. We shall not stop to analyse the composition in detail: sufficient, to point out the two pairs of heads, the two diagonals sloping away from the two lower corners into space in the upper: to remark that Arcadia resembles some of the sculptural types of the mid-second century and that Heracles is of the old Lysippic type: but whereas her body has more grandeur than they and the head is free of the sensuousness we saw in them, the head of Heracles is astonishingly debased, has feeble nose, coarse unintelligent mouth, and is over-naturalistic throughout: conceive another head on that body and the picture would gain infinitely in harmony.
We pass to a painting, that in the Villa Item, different in many ways from the last. That was the copy, probably fairly accurate, of a single self-contained picture: this has been adapted to three walls of a room, and though its present composition satisfies, we cannot tell that it has not been adjusted in the copying.
The figures there were realistically conceived in space; these stand against a conventional scarlet background. There the subject was clear and we were able to date it with an approach to certainty: this has been variously explained and is difficult to date. Lately its subject has been interpreted convincingly as the initiation of a bride. Dionysus, in the lap of Ariadne, perfect type of wedded blessedness, is the dominating figure at the performance of his ritual. The bride-to-be is seen to pass through its successive stages—the reading of sacred formulae, a ritual repast and ablution, divination by water of the marriage-fate, and the unveiling of the liknon, basket-cradle of the god containing his sacred emblems. The culminating rite is that of flagellation, fertility-inducing magic: here Nike, goddess of success, plies the purging whip: and clashing cymbals drown the cries of the victim, which, being of ill-omen, might break the charm. Finally, the bride is seen decking herself for her wedding, and in the last panel is left seated on the marriage-couch. In style the paintings show a tendency to the academic, to lose touch with nature and to take refuge in a simplicity which is false because it deliberately adopts formulae which should have been outgrown. These are the characteristics which we find in some though not all schools of sculpture in the second century, and it may be that we ought to ascribe to that century the original from which these paintings are derived.
We come now to the work of Timomachus of Byzantium, of the first half of the first century bc, who stands out as the last great Greek painter in the true line of succession. Two of his pictures have probably come down to us in copies: one the Medea which he did not live to finish, focussed as one would expect on one personality, the mother, goaded by jealousy, meditating the murder of her children. A type recalling earlier statues has been chosen for this figure, but it is given a new meaning: the tenseness of feeling is reflected in the upper drapery, twisted and tightly drawn, and in the interlacing hands with thumbs pressed hard together, conflicting like the rage and love in her agonized mind. All is at full strain but in equilibrium.
The other picture by Timomachus (if indeed it be his, for the evidence shows probability but no certainty) is best seen in a copy from Pompeii. It represents Pylades and Orestes, bound, before King Thoas, and Iphigenia issuing from the temple: another tense and pregnant moment, pregnant with a whole complex of action and emotion rather than, as in the simple conflict of the last, with the sudden crumbling of resistance followed by flashing murder. The connection between the two groups is hinted appropriately by the ready altar. Above them—the apex of the triangle of which they are the base-angles—isolated, stands Iphigenia, on whom the interest of all is centred. The irony of the situation has a Greek relish. Noteworthy, otherwise, the diagonal movement into space given by the placing of the steps, and, once more, the grouped heads.
Also to the second century belonged two pictures reproduced in the first century by a worker in mosaic, Dioscurides of Samos, one of which we illustrat. It is a scene from comedy: the participants sit on the podium of the stage and wear masks. Two ladies have come to consult a wise woman: on the table before her lie a laurel branch, an incense-burner and an incense- or charm-box: in her right hand she holds a long-stemmed cup, and compresses the finger-tips of her left as she strains at prophecy, and squints, we may imagine more than usually, with the effort. The others hang on her pronouncement; one, in the centre, relieving her impatience by chattering volubly, the other swelling with anxiety. We do not recognize the scene, but the main idea is clear, and the humour and characterization admirable. The masks accentuate the types and yet allow the artist to put into them much individual feeling.
We reach last two branches of painting, the development of which is characteristic of the Hellenistic age, still-life and landscape. Still-life is the product of a painter’s mind, who does not need to go to epic or myth for his subjects, but finds ready to his hand in the commonest of things numberless problems of his art and an infinity of beauty and interest. Closely connected with it, though inspired often rather by the interest of the subject in its relation with life than primarily by interest in the artistic problem, is the picture of manners; and even quite early in the Hellenistic age there were painters (and writers as well) who concentrated on something between the two—drinking-scenes, shops, the life of peasants and their animals. Pictures of still-life and manners are made in a time when the demand for purely religious dedications is flagging, and the artist, no longer commissioned for a memorial of victory, or of divine help, or of death, looks round him and chooses at will. His pictures will often, though not always, be panel pictures, set up in houses as curiosities or rarities, rather than as integral parts of the decoration. At the highest they are of extraordinary skill, solid and full of light. We show one—peaches, a peach-branch and a glass jar of water—which is of great beauty in design, in rendering of form, and in colouring. Animals seem to have been a favourite element in this kind of composition, and one of the most famous was the mosaic of doves by Sosus, a Pergamene of the third century, which has reached us in several versions. His ‘Unswept Floor,’ the offal of a banquet worked out, not meanly, to the meanest detail, is partially preserved in a copy in the Lateran Museum at Rome.
Landscape so far has always occurred, when it occurred at all, which is rarely, as an adjunct necessary to the full understanding of a picture, and inserted for that reason, typified usually by the smallest extract possible. And even now pure landscape is not found: it is still only the setting for life, whether human or mythical—the converse of Turner’s method, where a mythological or biblical subject serves as a pretext for some grand landscape painted for its own sake. There is a series of scenes from the Odyssey, preserved in the Vatican, which will serve for an example. The old scheme was, whenever possible, to show the figures only; the human, the only important element. Here figures and setting are both shown, and the balance between them is even. But there is no trace of landscape painting in the modern sense. The painter needs woods and rocks and sea, because the story mentions them. But he does not paint a study of wild rocky scenery or wooded country or seascape. He understands abstract form, and puts down abstractions. His wood is a grove, his sea clear moodless water, his rocks fantastic like Patinir’s but without half their naturalistic detail. Everything is subservient to his artistic purpose, and that is not objective but subjective, not only not interpretational but not even imitative. Even in other landscapes where the figures are definitely subordinate, this is always the aim, to depict man’s world, not nature’s.
ARCHITECTURE AND TOWN-PLANNING
The achievements of Hellenistic architecture, so far as they are known to us, may most conveniently be summarized by treating of the several kinds of buildings, and indicating briefly the trend of the development of each.
Of temples, the Didymaeum at Miletus, a vast shell containing as its kernel the tiny Ionic shrine of the archaic image carried off by Xerxes and now restored by Seleucus, has already been described. Externally it was a normal Ionic dipteros; but its great columns, five deep at the entrance, must have seemed a forest. The temple of Zeus Olympios at Athens, continued in 174 bc by Antiochus Epiphanes (with Cossutius as architect) on Peisistratid foundations, was dipteral, with three rows of columns at front and back. The scale, the grouping, and the proportions of the columns give to the sixteen which still survive from its hundred and four a place among the most impressive remains of antiquity. About the beginning of the second century the architect Hermogenes, in his temple of Artemis Leucophryene at Magnesia on the Maeander, built an Ionic pseudodipteros, by eliminating the inner row of columns in a dipteral plan; so leaving an unusually wide space within the peristyle and effecting an immense economy of material. Hermogenes has been credited with the invention of this plan, but there are far earlier temples that approach very close to it. Probably, then, being writer as well as architect, he systematized it as an evolved form, distinct from the more or less accidental approximations of earlier times. It is strange to reflect that the dipteros itself had originally been introduced to enable the slender Ionic column to hold its own against the sturdiness of the Doric.
Many temples were built during these centuries—many large, and of small more than before, these last for the growing number of small religious groups. There are numerous variations on orthodox plans which had now reached the limit of normal evolution: and these variations, based on arbitrary taste, and, rarely, on the study of foreign models, seem to be designed either to avoid the commonplace or to meet the requirements of some abnormality in the cult: some, especially those devoted to the celebration of mysteries, deviate widely from tradition. In temple-architecture generally, the Doric order is supplanted by the Ionic (later, too, by the Corinthian), and even where admitted is Ionicized. The stereotyped form of both Ionic and Corinthian capitals is now reached, and though a good deal of variety is found, none of the modifications which either underwent remained popular, save the convenient four-sided Ionic, which seems to have led to the Composite in the first century ad. There are some curious experiments, as in the Didymaeum, where a bust, sculptured in the manner of the Pergamene Great Altar (though held by some to be of Roman date), projects from each volute of an Ionic capital; and inventions based on eastern models, such as the bull-capitals of Delos, in a late fourth-century building apparently designed to accommodate a votive ship. But the unpleasing Ionic capital reconstructed by Puchstein, and widely accepted as embodying the formula of Vitruvius, results from a misunderstanding: Vitruvius was describing the capital of the living Hellenistic tradition of his day, familiar to us from surviving examples .
There is now a fondness for leaving the lower part of columns, both Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian, unfluted, a proceeding natural enough when the flutes would have been in a position to be chipped by crowds, by porters’ baskets, or by the hazards of domestic life. Columns entirely unfluted were also used, but not, as later, for a new aesthetic purpose.
In buildings other than temples, new forms were demanded by new purposes. The ship of Hiero II, a kind of houseboat, with exceedingly rich decoration and a luxuriant garden; the still more elaborate floating palace of Ptolemy IV; the lighthouse built by Sostratus for Ptolemy on the island of Pharos at Alexandria, a three-storey building nearly four hundred feet high with a beacon on the third storey, which earned its designer wide fame and served as a model for many others; the time-and-weather-indicator (‘Tower of the Winds’) of Andronicus Cyrrhestes at Athens, about 50 bc.—these are but examples of the varied tasks on which architects were now employed. Some palaces were built, but most, if we judge from the description of Vitruvius and the scanty remains, were enlarged Greek houses rather than palaces in the Oriental sense.
Traditional plans underwent improvement and modification, generally in the sense of greater specialization. Gymnasia were more formal, and the parts more clearly differentiated, the gymnasium proper being separated from the enclosed palaestra where wrestling and boxing took place, and the bath again from these: some of their developments may have contributed, through the hypertrophy of that part devoted to the baths, to the plan of the Roman thermae. Theatres now began to approach the modern plan, by the truncation of the circular orchestra, and the aggrandizement of the raised stage.
The form usually associated with the ancient theatre—and its acoustic properties—also commended itself to architects as suitable for debating halls. It contrasts not unfavourably with the commonest modern type (not unknown in antiquity) where a speaker faces only half his audience, and members have to turn their heads to see the president. At Priene, the ecclesiasterion resembles a quadrate theatre, and is thus in essentials like a petrification of the Thersilion. At Miletus, the bouleuterion erected by Antiochus Epiphanes in the second quarter of the second century b.c. is simply a theatre roofed in and adapted to a rectangular plan. The use of an ordinary gable roof, which, even with the help of four internal columns, could only span the building by having its ridge run down the long axis at right angles to the axis of the theatre, was a timid expedient which brought difficulties into the design of the elevation, and led the architect into an unhappy reminiscence of a pseudo-dipteral temple on a podium, with engaged columns, and four somewhat insignificant entrances on the short axis.
The agora, the focus of daily life, was normally surrounded on three sides, internally by colonnades, externally by a wall. Its smells and cries were thus cut off from the rest of the city, yet it was centrally placed and easily accessible. Here was freedom from draughts, and from the accompaniment of draughts, dusteddies. Here, under the columns, sheltered sunny places, and shady places. Everywhere, save for the obstruction offered by haphazard dedications, ample space for circulation. So little changed are the circumstances of this primary human activity, that even in our own more rigorous climate the designer of a modern market might do worse than adopt such a general scheme.
The colonnade remained one of the chief elements of design. Medieval philosophy was to find shelter in the cloister: its southern prototype cradled one of the great philosophical systems of antiquity. The colonnaded street, a protection against sun and rain, common in Roman times, was perhaps first introduced at Antioch in the first century bc; while it was Sostratus, the maker of the lighthouse on Pharos, who built at Cnidus, in the third, a series of superimposed colonnades with ambulatories in the upper storeys.
The mention of the agora calls to mind the science and the art of town-planning, which may be said to have been now first systematically studied; for although streets had been laid out at right angles to each other by Hippodamus of Miletus in the fifth century bc (an arrangement preserved by the modern streets in the Piraeus) the practice had not become usual. The circumstances were indeed such as to stimulate the growth of this study, for with the opening up of new and vast territories, especially in the East, hundreds of new towns were being built, often on virgin sites. It is difficult to make statements which will hold good of even a majority of these, for we have examples of several —no doubt there were many others—where abnormal natural conditions or older buildings created special problems demanding special solutions just as they do today. Rhodes and Halicarnassus, for example, using natural contours, gave expression to the importance of their maritime life by laying out their streets as if they were the seat-rows and gangways of a great theatre, the orchestra of which was the harbour basin. But so far as one can generalize from the few towns fully excavated (and even these have accretions of later date), the usual plan was to build an encircling wall of fortifications, now highly efficient, along the contours which best suited it; and within this area, which naturally was often irregular, to lay out the town with streets regularly spaced cutting each other at right angles. The blocks thus formed would ordinarily be occupied by houses of one storey, though on cramped sites the buildings might run up to several; private gardens were rare. Towards the centre of the city would be the agora, with a main street sometimes bounding one side.
Priene is often taken as an example of Hellenistic townplanning, because its evidence is clear and full, but we cannot be certain that it was typical (in some ways we know that it was not), and, having been laid out as early as the end of the fourth century, it will represent a comparatively rudimentary stage. Many cities may have been more formal—indeed Strabo implies that a common plan was to divide the city into four quarters by two main streets connecting the four main gates—many cities were certainly less formal in plan: and the expedients for solving local problems were numerous.
Priene stands on the lower southern
slope of a hill which as it rises becomes too precipitous for ordinary
This precipitous side and the summit were therefore enclosed within the fortifications, but not used for building. The occupied slope was divided by fifteen streets running north and south, intersected at right angles by six, of which the largest, that leading to the West Gate, ran through the agora near its north side. The slope of the hill relieved any monotony which might arise from the regular rectangular crossings, for the streets running north and south sloped, and were stepped at intervals. The agora itself and the civic buildings were not far from the centre of the city, and actually adjoined one of the temples, that of Asclepius, though this faced away from the agora. The chief temple, of Athena Polias, which lay near, was not disregarded by the plan, but yet was not intimately correlated with the other main buildings.
Theatres usually took advantage of natural slopes, and that at Priene was no exception, being built against the steepening slope on the north of the city, while on the south, where the ground was more nearly level, were placed the gymnasia and stadium. Another arrangement, and a more spectacular use of the natural features of a site, was at Pergamum, where all the sacred buildings, including the Great Altar, were grouped, together with the agora, to crown the skyline of the Acropolis, the theatre stretched below them down the slope, and beneath it was cut a magnificent terrace to serve as basis for the whole design. The planning of the less important parts of Pergamum seems however to have been somewhat neglected. And indeed we find, in general, that architects had a quicker eye for natural features and the use which might be made of them, than for the possibilities of artificial grouping and approach. Thus the absence of squares and gardens usually prevented impressive views of buildings or groups of buildings, though many temples had forecourts and even propylaea. Too rigid an adherence to the chessboard plan brought with it the usual defects. The parallel rather than the axis dominated. It is rare to find a street centred on the axis of a building: instead, it runs past, parallel to the facade, or down one side, not leading up to it. You turned aside to go in. St Peter’s in a side-street. At Priene the widest street touches twenty-four feet: the main streets of Pergamum were fixed by law at not less than thirty. In Hellenistic cities generally they were not paved, for Smyrna boasted that she was the first to pave them. One of the greatest problems of today, that of traffic, hardly existed. Sewers were now sometimes closed; and the importance of pure and abundant water-supply (brought in under pressure where necessary, otherwise by gravitation) was realized, though public fountains were not in general superseded by supplies to private houses. A fragmentary inscription at Pergamum describes arrangements made for scavenging, for dealing with dangerous structures, for the repair of roads, and for the prevention of damp in houses set one below the other on a slope.
For domestic architecture, the main sources of information are Priene again, and Delos, which happen to be the cities most fully known and published. Vitruvius also gives an account of the Greek house; but this is somewhat difficult to reconcile in all points with the actual remains. The excavations have made one point clear, namely that the Mycenaean plan persisted into Hellenistic times, and therefore must have been used (though sparingly, for the house of the ordinary citizen was always boxlike) in the previous centuries for which we have not so much information. At Priene the normal plan of the third and second centuries is for the houses to be entered by a narrow covered passage varying in length, leading to an open rectangular courtyard, on the north of which (facing south) is a portico with two columns in antis, opening on to the main room. This is the survival of the Mycenaean megaron, which in essentials survives also in any ordinary Doric temple of the fifth century. It is a plan designed to give the maximum of sun in winter and of shade in summer, for the portico admitted the winter sun, but was shaded in the hottest months, because the sun is then higher in the sky; while shelter from excessive heat or cold could always be had in the main room. Sometimes both porch and main room connected with other rooms beside them, and one or more of the remaining sides of the courtyard were taken up by storerooms, bedrooms or the like. All rooms were normally lighted from the courtyard. The house ordinarily presented a blank wall to the street, with an unpretentious entrance door, often set back to form a small porch. At Delos, in those houses (of the second century) which have been excavated, the megaron plan cannot be distinguished, but most have one room opening on to the pillared court. Some of these Delian houses were lighted by windows on the street, and there are evidences of an upper storey (presumably of bedrooms, the natural corollary of external lighting) although the wooden staircases have disappeared. The description by Vitruvius (substantiated in some measure by a house at Priene) refers to luxurious houses having a normal Greek plan, though much elaborated: and this is the form that royal residences would generally take. It mentions two or more courts, the first being the old nucleus of main room facing south, used normally by the mistress of the house, and bedrooms; with the dining-room and rooms for slaves round the other sides of the courts. The second, reserved for the use of the men, has colonnades on all sides, that facing south sometimes being more lofty (a fashion called Rhodian) with large banqueting and gaming rooms behind: such Colonnades have been found at Pompeii and Palmyra, and, facing east instead of south, at Delos. The side facing north contained a picture-gallery (or a special dining-room called Cyzicene, perhaps for hot weather); that facing east a library, that west exedrae—open-air resting-places; while separate rows of guestrooms were annexed on two sides, presumably east and west. At Pompeii the houses are of the Italic plan, which bears only a superficial resemblance to the Greek. It is sometimes used by itself, sometimes in combination with the Greek peristyle. This combination appears as a building with two courts, the first the Roman atrium, with tablinum and alae, the second, the Greek, now beside, now behind it, serving as a kind of pleasure-court or interiors were decorated by marble panelling, or by painted imitations of it, by stucco painted and gilded, by inlay of rich woods, and by paintings. These were sometimes architectural perspectives (of which the most famous and fantastic was in the ecclesiasterion of Tralles): or they consisted of simple architectural ornament, sometimes with small devices added, sometimes forming the frame for more ambitious wall-pictures. Ceilings were coloured and inlaid, floors variegated with marbles or mosaics. But the internal decoration of the dwelling-house is best studied in Graeco-Roman buildings on Italian soil: otherwise we depend on casual references by ancient writers.
For exteriors, polygonal masonry never went quite out of fashion. The effect of rectangular masonry was enhanced by drafting the edges and bossing the surface of the blocks, as well as by varying the height of the courses. The arch, rarely found in temples, less rarely in tombs, continued to be used with fine effect in large wall-surfaces, especially for the gates of city or fortification walls.
If it were possible to sum up in a few words the achievements of architects during so long a period and over so wide and diverse an area, it might be said that they were content, when building a traditional building, with a traditional plan, modifying, elaborating, sometimes improving it; but that they tended to be timid in departing from a comparatively narrow.orbit of plans, methods and materials: nor had economic pressure yet forced them to demand of those materials the maximum load or the maximum strain. On the other hand, examples are not wanting of those who, when faced with exceptional tasks, were bold enough to ignore traditional forms, and instead of attempting to adapt to a new purpose the plan or elevation of another kind of building, allowed function to dominate, and so produced designs which may fairly be called original.