CALLISTRATUS was a Greek writer of the C3rd or C4th AD who is known only as the author of a work titled Descriptions, a collection of fourteen short essays describing statues of mostly mythical characters in poetic detail.
Elder Philostratus, Younger Philostratus, Callistratus. Translated by Fairbanks, Arthur. Loeb Classical Library Volume 256. London: William Heinemann, 1931.
The most recent edition of this volume is available new from Amazon.com (click on image right for details). In addition to the work of Callistratus the book also contains translations of the Imagines by Philostratus the Elder and Philostratus the Younger, source Greek texts and Fairbanks' introduction and footnotes.
DESCRIPTIONS, TRANSLATED BY ARTHUR FAIRBANKS
1. Statue of a Satyr
2. Statue of a Bacchante
3. Statue of Eros
4. Statue of an Indian
5. Statue of Narcissus
6. Statue of Opportunity
7. Statue of Orpheus
8. Statue of Dionysus
9. Statue of Memnon
10. Statue of Paean
11. Statue of a Youth
12. Statue of a Centaur
13. Statue of Medea
14. Figure of Athamas
1. ON A SATYR 1
There was a certain cave near Thebes in Egypt which resembled a shepherd’s pipe, since as it followed its winding course in the depths of the earth it formed a natural spiral; for it did not take a straight course at the opening and then branch off into straight-running corridors, but winding about under the mountain it made a huge spiral, ending in a most difficult maze. In it was set up an image of a Satyr wrought in marble. He stood on a base in the attitude of one making ready to dance, and lifting the sole of his right foot backward he not only held a flute in his hand but also was being the first to leap up at its sound; though in reality the flute’s note was not reaching the player’s ear, nor yet was the flute endowed with voice, but the physical effect which flute-players experience had been transferred to the stone by the skill of the artist. You could have seen the veins standing out as though they were filled with a sort of breath, the Satyr drawing the air from his lungs to bring notes from the flute, the statue eager to be in action, and the stone entering upon strenuous activity – for it persuaded you that the power to blow the flute was actually inherent in it, and that the indication of breathing was the result of its own inner powers2 – finding a way to accomplish the impossible.3 The body had no trace of delicacy, but the hardness of the members had stolen away their beauty, making the form rugged with the symmetry of manly limbs. For though soft skin and dainty limbs befit a beautiful girl, the appearance of a Satyr is unkempt, as of a mountain spirit that leaps in honour of Dionysus. The statue was wreathed with ivy, though the sculptor’s art did not cull real berries from a meadow, nay, rather, it was the stone which for all its hardness spread out into sprays and encircled the hair, creeping back from the forehead till the ends met at the sinews of the neck. Pan stood beside him, delighting in the music of the flute and embracing Echo, in fear, I suppose, lest the flute set in motion some musical sound and induce the nymph to make an echoing response to the Satyr. When we saw this statue we could well believe that the Ethiopan stone statue of Memnon4 also became vocal, the Memnon, who when Day came was filled with joy by her presence, and overcome by distress when she departed, groaned with grief - the only stone figure that has been moved by the presence of joy and sadness to depart from its natural dumbness, so far overcoming its insensibility as to gain the power of speech.
2. ON THE STATUE OF A BACCHANTE
It is not the art of poets and writers of prose alone that is inspired when divine power from the gods falls on their tongues, nay, the hands of sculptors also, when they are seized by the gift of a more divine inspiration, give utterance5 to creations that are possessed and full of madness.6 So Scopas,7 moved as it were by some inspiration, imparted to the production of this statue the divine frenzy within him.8 Why should I not describe to you from the beginning the inspiration of this work of art?
A statue of a Bacchante, wrought from Parian marble, has been transformed into a real Bacchante. For the stone, while retaining its own nature, yet seemed to depart from the law which governs stone; what one saw was really an image, but art carried imitation over into actual reality. You might have seen that, hard though it was, it became soft to the semblance of the feminine, its vigour, however, correcting the femininity, and that , thought it had no power to move, it knew how to leap in Bacchic dance and would respond to the god when he entered into its inner being. When we saw the face we stood speechless; so manifest upon it was the evidence of sense perception, though perception was not present; so clear an intimation was given of a Bacchante’s divine possession aroused it; and so strikingly there shone from it, fashioned by art in a manner not to be described, all the signs of passion which a soul goaded by madness9 displays. The hair fell free to be tossed by the wind and was divided to show the glory of each strand, which thing indeed most transcended reason, seeing that, stone though the material was, it lent itself to the lightness of hair and yielded to imitation of locks of hair, and though void of the faculty of life, it nevertheless had vitality. Indeed you might say that art has brought to its aid the impulses of growing life, so unbelievable is what you see, so visible is what you do not believe. Nay, it actually showed hands in motion – for it was not waving the Bacchic thyrsus, but it carried a victim as if it were uttering the Evian cry, the token of a more poignant madness; and the figure of the kid was livid in colour,10 for the stone assumed the appearance of dead flesh; and though the material was one and the same it severally imitated life and death, for it made on part instinct with life and as though eager for Cithaeron, and another part brought to death by Bacchic frenzy, its keen senses withered away. Thus Scopas fashioning creatures without life was an artificer of truth and imprinted miracles on bodies made of inanimate matter; while Demosthenes, fashioning images in words, almost made visible a form of words by mingling the pigments of art with the creations of mind and intelligence. You will recognize at once that the image set up to be gazed at has not been deprived of its native power of movement11; nay, that it at the same time is master of and by its outward configuration keeps alive its own creator.12
3. ON THE STATUE OF EROS 13
My discourse desires to interpret another sacred work of art; for it is not right for me to refuse to call the productions of art sacred. The Eros, the workmanship of Praxiteles,14 was Eros himself, a boy in the bloom of youth with wings and bow. Bronze gave expression to him, and as though giving expression to Eros as a great and dominating god, it was itself subdued by Eros; for it could not endure to be only bronze, but it became Eros just as he was. You might have seen the bronze losing its hardness and becoming marvelously delicate in the direction of plumpness and, to put the matter briefly, the material proving equal to fulfilling all the obligations that were laid upon it. It was supple but without effeminacy; and while it had the proper colour of bronze, it looked bright and fresh; and though it was quite devoid of actual motion, it was ready to display motion; for though it was fixed solidly on a pedestal, it deceived one into thinking that it possessed the power to fly. It was filled with joy even to laughter, the glance from the eyes was ardent and gentle, and one could see the bronze coming under the sway of passion and willingly receiving the representation of laughter. It stood with right hand bent toward the head and lifting the bow with its left; and the even balance of the body’s posture was modified by an inclination toward the left, for the projecting left hip was raised so as to break the stiffness of the bronze and produce an easy pose. The head was shaded by locks that were bright and curly and shining with the brightness of youth. And what wonderful bronze it was! For as one looked a ruddy colour shone out from the ends of the curls, and when one felt the hair it yielded as though soft to the touch. As I gazed on this work of art, the belief came over me that Daedalus15 had indeed wrought a dancing group in motion and had bestowed sensation upon gold, while Praxiteles had all but put intelligence into his image of Eros and had so contrived that it should cleave the air with its wings.
4. ON THE STATUE OF AN INDIAN 16
By a spring stood an Indian, set up as a dedication to the Nymphs. The Indian was of a marble verging on black and shifting of its own accord to the colour given by nature to his race; and it had thick woolly hair, shining with a hue not exactly black,17 but at the tips vying with brilliance of Tyrian shellfish18; for the hair, as if it were well cared for and moistened by the neighbouring Nymphs, was rather black where it rose from the roots but grew purple near the tips. The eyes, however, were not of a colour to match the marble; for whiteness encircled the pupils of the yes, since the marble changed to whiteness at that point where the natural colour of the Indian becomes white. Drunkenness was overcoming him, and yet the colour of the marble did not betray his drunkenness – for the artist had no means by which to redden the cheeks, the black colour being proof against this effect of drink – but this condition was indicated by the attitude; for he stood reeling and jovial, not able to plant his feet steadily, but trembling and tending to sag to the ground. The marble resembled a man overcome by this condition, and it all but quivers as it indicates the trembling that comes from drunkenness. There was nothing delicate about the statue of the Indian, nor yet was it carefully wrought to match the charm of its colour, but it was perfected only as regards the composition of its limbs. It was unclothed and nude, on the ground that the bodies of Indians are wont to endure manfully the fiery heat of the midday sun.
5. ON THE STATUE OF NARCISSUS 19
There was a grove, and in it an exceedingly beautiful spring of very pure clear water, and by this stood a Narcissus made of marble. He was a boy, or rather a youth, of the same age as the Erotes; and he gave out as it were a radiance of lightning from the very beauty of his body. The appearance of the statue was as follows:- It was shining with gilded hair, of which the locks encircled the forehead in a curve and hung free down the neck to the back; and its glance did not express unmixed exultation nor yet pure joy, for in the nature of the eyes art had put an indication of grief, that the image might represent not only both Narcissus but also his fate. He was clothed like the Erotes, and he resembled them also in that he was in the prime of his youth. The garb which adorned him was as follows: a white mantle, of the same colour as the marble of which he was made, encircled him; it was held by a clasp on the right shoulder and reached down nearly to the knees, where it ended, leaving free, from the clasp down, only the hand. Moreover, it was so delicate and imitated a mantle so closely that the colour of the body shone through, the whiteness of the drapery permitting the gleam of the limbs to come out. He stood using the spring as a mirror and pouring into it the beauty of his face, and the spring, receiving the lineaments which came from him, reproduced so perfectly the same image that he two other beings seemed to emulate each other. For whereas the marble was in every part trying to change the real boy20 so as to match the one in the water, the spring was struggling to match the skilful efforts of art in the marble, reproducing in an incorporeal medium the likeness of the corporeal model and enveloping the reflection which came from the statue with the substance of water as though it were the substance of flesh. And indeed the form in the water was so instinct with life and breath that it seemed to be Narcissus himself, who, as the story goes, came to the spring, and when his form was seen by him in the water he died among the water-nymphs, because he desired to embrace his own image, and now he appears as a flower in the meadows in the spring-time. You could have seen how the marble, uniform though it was in colour, adapted itself to the expression of his eyes, preserved the record of his character, showed the perception of his senses, indicated his emotions and conformed itself to the abundance of his hair as it relaxed to make the curls of his locks. Indeed, words cannot describe how the marble softened into suppleness and provided a body at variance with its own essence; for though its own nature is very hard, it yielded a sensation of softness, being dissolved into a sort of porous matter. The image was holding a syrinx,21 the instrument with which Narcissus was wont to offer music to the gods of the flock, and he would make the desert echo with his songs whenever he desired to hold converse with stringed musical instruments. In admiration of his Narcissus, O youths, I have fashioned an image of him and brought it before you also in the halls of the Muses. And the description is such as to agree wit the statue.
6. ON THE STATUE OF OPPORTUNITY AT SICYON 22
I desire to set before you in words the creation of Lysippus23 also, the most beautiful of statues, which the artist wrought and set up for the Sicyonians to look upon. Opportunity was represented in a statue of bronze, in which art vied with nature. Opportunity was a youth, from head to foot resplendent with the bloom of youth. He was beautiful to look upon as he waved his downy beard and left his hair unconfined for the south wind to toss wherever it would; and he had a blooming complexion, showing by its brilliancy the bloom of his body. He closely resembled Dionysus; for his forehead glistened with graces and his cheeks, reddening to youthful bloom, wee radiantly beautiful, conveying to the beholder’s eye a delicate blush. And he stood poised on the tips of his toes on a sphere, and his feet were winged. His hair did not grow in the customary way, but its locks, creeping down over the eyebrows, let the curl fall upon his cheeks, while the back of the head of Opportunity was without tresses, showing only the first indications of sprouting hair. We stood speechless at the sight when we saw the bronze accomplishing the deeds of nature and departing from its own proper province. For though it was bronze it blushed; and though it was hard by nature, it melted into softness, yielding to all the purposes of art; and though it was void of living sensation, it inspired the belief that it had sensation dwelling within it; and it really was stationary, resting its foot firmly on the ground, but though it was standing, it nevertheless gave evidence of possessing the power of rapid motion; and it deceived your eyes into thinking that it not only was capable of advancing forward, but that it had received from the artist even the power to cleave with its winged, if it so wished, the aerial domain.
Such was the marvel, as it seemed to us; but a man who was skilled in the arts and who, with a deeper perception of art, knew how to track down the marvels of craftsmen, applied reasoning to the artist’s creation, explaining the significance of Opportunity as faithfully portrayed in the statue: the wings on his feet, he told us, suggested his swiftness, and that, borne by the seasons, he goes rolling on through all eternity; and as to his youthful beauty, that beauty is always opportune and that Opportunity is the only artificer of beauty,24 whereas that of which the beauty has withered has no part in the nature of Opportunity; he also explained that the lock of hair on his forehead indicated that while he is easy to catch as he approaches, yet, when he has passed by, the moment of action has likewise expired, and that, if opportunity is neglected, it cannot be recovered.
7. ON THE STATUE OF ORPHEUS
On Helicon25 – the spot is a shaded precinct sacred to the Muses – near the torrent of the river Olmeius and the violet-dark spring of Pegasus, there stood beside the Muses a statue of Orpheus, the son of Calliope, a statue most beautiful to look upon. For the bronze joined with art to give birth to beauty, indicating by the splendour of the body the musical nature of the soul. It was adorned by a Persian tiara26 spangled with gold and rising high up from the head, and a chiton hanging from the shoulders to the feet was confined at the breast by a golden belt. The hair was so luxuriant and so instinct with the spirit of life as to deceive the senses into thinking it was being tossed and shaken by gusts of wind – for the hair behind on the neck fell free down the back, while the parted hair which lay above the eyebrows gave full view o the pure glance of the eyes. The sandal shone brightly with yellowest of gold, and a robe fell ungirded down the back to the ankle; and he was carrying the lyre, which was equipped with as many notes as the number of the Muses. For the bronze even acted the part of strings and, being so modified as to imitate each separate note, it obediently carried out the deceit, almost indeed becoming vocal and producing the very sound of the notes. Beneath his feet heaven was not represented nor the Pleiades coursing the aether nor the revolving Bear that “has no part in the baths of Oceanus,” 27 but there was every kind of bird, brought under the spell of the singing,28 and all beasts of the mountains and whatever feeds in the recesses of the sea, and a horse stood entranced, held in control, not by a bridle, but by the music, and a bull, having abandoned its pasturage, was listening to the strains of the lyre, and lions by nature fierce were being lulled to sleep in response to its harmony. You could see the bronze taking on the shape of rivers flowing from their sources toward the singing,29 and a wave of the sea raising itself aloft for love of the song, and rocks being smitten with the sensation of music, and every plant in its season hastening from its usual abode towards the music of Orpheus30; and though there was nothing that gave out a sound or roused the lyre’s harmony, yet art made manifest in all the animals the emotions excited by their love of music, and cursed their pleasure to be visible in the bronze, and in a wonderful manner expressed the enchantment that springs up in the sense-perceptions of the animals.
8. ON THE STATUE OF DIONYSUS
Daedalus, if one is to place credence in the Cretan marvel, had the power to construct statues endowed with motion and to compel gold to feel human sensations, but in truth the hands of Praxiteles wrought works of art that were altogether alive. There was a grove, and in it stood Dionysus31 in the form of a young man, so delicate that the bronze was transformed into flesh, with a body so supple and relaxed that it seemed to consist of some different material instead of bronze: for though it was really bronze, it nevertheless blushed, and though it had no part in life, it sought to show the appearance of life and would yield to the very finger-tip if you touched it, for though it was really compact bronze, it was so softened into flesh by art that it shrank from the contact of the hand. It had the bloom of youth, it was full of daintiness, it melted with desire, as indeed Euripides represented him when he fashioned his image in the Bacchae.32 A wreath of ivy encircled his head – since the bronze was in truth ivy, bent as it was into sprays and holding up the curly locks which fell in profusion from his forehead. And it was full of laughter, nay, it wholly passed the bounds of wonder in that the material gave out evidence of joy and the bronze feigned to represent the emotions. A fawn-skin clothed the statue, not such as Dionysus was accustomed to wear, but the bronze was transformed to imitate the pelt; and he stood resting his left hand on a thyrsus, and the thyrsus deceived the beholder’s vision; for while it was wrought of bronze it seemed to glisten with the greenness of young growth, as though it were actually transformed into the plant itself. They eye was gleaming with fire, in appearance the eye of a man in a frenzy; for the bronze exhibited the Bacchic madness and seemed to be divinely inspired, just as, I think, Praxiteles had the power to infuse into the statue also the Bacchic ecstasy.
9. ON THE STATUE OF MEMNON 33
I wish to describe to you the miracle of Memnon also; for the art it displayed was truly incredible and beyond the power of human hand. There was in Ethiopian an image of Memnon, the son of Tithonus, made of marble; however stone though it was, it did not abide within its proper limits nor endure the silence imposed on it by nature, but stone though it was it had the power of speech. For at one time it saluted the rising Day, by its voice giving token of its joy and expressing delight at the arrival of its mother; and again, as day declined to night, it uttered piteous and mournful groans in grief at her departure. Nor yet was the marble at a loss for tears, but they too were at hand to serve its will. The statue of Memnon, as it seems to me, differed from a human being only in its body, but it was directed and guided by a kind of soul and by a will like that of man. At any rate it both had grief in its composition and again it was possessed by a feeling of pleasure according as it was affected by each emotion. Though nature had made all stones from the beginning voiceless and mute and both unwilling to be under the control of grief and also unaware of the meaning of joy, but rather immune to all the darts of chance, yet to that stone of Memnon art had imparted pleasure and had mingled the sense of pain in the rock; and this is the only work of art of which we know that has implanted in the stone perceptions and a voice. Daedalus did indeed boldly advance as far as motion, and the materials of which they were made and to move in the dance; but it was impossible and absolutely out of the question for him to make statues that could speak. Yet the hands of Aethiopans discovered means to accomplish the impossible,34 and they overcame the inability of stone to speak. The story runs that Echo answered this Memnon when it spoke, uttering a mournful note in response to its mournful lament and returning a mimicking sound in response to its expressions of joy. The statue in questions both lulled to rest the sorrows of Day and caused her to abandon her search for her son, as though the art of the Aethiopans were compensating her by means of the statue for the Memnon who had been snatched away from her by fate.
10. ON THE STATUE OF PAEAN 35
Are we then to believe that the vessel Argo,36 which was wrought by the hands of Athena and later assumed its allotted place among the stars, became capable of speech, and yet in the case of a statue into which Asclepius infused his own powers, introducing purposeful intelligence therein and thus making it a partner with himself, not believe that the power of the indwelling god is clearly manifest therein? Nay, more shall we admit that the divine spirit descends into human bodies, there to be even defiled by passions, and nevertheless not believe it in a case where there is no attendant engendering of evil? To me, at any rate, the object before our eyes seems to be, not an image, but a modelled presentment of truth; for see how Art not only is not without power to delineate character, but, after having portrayed the god in an image, it even passes over into the god himself. Matter though it is, it gives forth divine intelligence, and though it is the work of human hands, it succeeds in doing what handicrafts cannot accomplish, in that it begets in a marvellous way tokens of a soul. The face as you look at it enthrals the senses; for it has not been fashioned to an adventitious beauty, but as it raises a saintly and benignant eye it flashes forth an indescribable depth of majesty tempered with modesty. Curly locks abounding in grace, - some fall luxuriant and unconfined on the back, while others come down over the forehead to the eyebrows and hang thick about the eyes. But, as if stirred by life and kept moist of themselves, they coil themselves into the bending curls, the material not rendering obedience to the law of art, but realizing that it represents a god and that he must work his own will. And although all things that are born are wont to die, yet the form of the statue, as though carrying within itself the essence of health, flourishes in the possession of indestructible youth. And so we, O Paean, have offered to you the first fruits of discourse, freshly made, and the offspring of memory; for you bid us do so, I think; and I am eager also to sing the strains to you if you allot me health.
11. ON THE STATUE OF A YOUTH 37
Have you seen on the acropolis the youth which Praxiteles set up, or must I set before you the work of art? It was a boy tender and young, and art had softened the bronze to express softness and youth; moreover, it abounded in daintiness and desire, and it made manifest the bloom of youth. Indeed, it was plain to see that in all points the statue was responsive to the will of the artist; for it was tender though the essence of the bronze is opposed to tenderness, and though devoid of suppleness it yet inclined to be supple, and the bronze departed totally from the imitations of its own nature and was transmuted into the true qualities of the subject. Though not endowed with breath, it yet began to breathe; sine what the material had not inherited as a gift of nature, for all this art furnished the capacity. It imparted to the cheeks to make them blush – a thing incredible – a ruddiness born of the bronze, and a bloom of young boyhood shone from it. And the hair had curls which tended to fall over the eyebrows. But fastening his hair with a band and thrusting it back from his brows with a fillet, he kept his forehead bare of the locks. When, however, we went on to examine the statue part by part and the matters of artistry in it, we stood overcome by speechlessness; for the bronze showed the flesh well nurtured and sleek with oil, and it adapted itself to the movement of the hair, now coiling in strands of curly locks, now unfolding with the hair that strove to pour in broad mass down the back; and where the figure wished to bend, the bronze would relax itself to the bending, and where the figure would make tense its limbs, the bronze would change and become rigid. They eye held a look of longing commingled with a passionate modesty, and was full of the grace of love; for the bronze knew how to imitate love’s passion and yielded to the image when it wished to indulge in wantonness. Though it was motionless, this youth seemed to possess the power to move and to be making ready to dance.
12. ON THE STATUE OF A CENTAUR 38
On entering an awe-inspiring and ample shrine which had received into itself the most beautiful statues, I behold set up in the entrance-hall of the temple a centaur, not like a man,39 as Homer represents him, but like a “wooded mountain peak.” 40 The centaur was a man down as far as the flanks, then it indeed in a horse’s “four-legged stance.” 41 For both the horse and the man Nature had cut in two in the middle and joined into one body, omitting some members and cleverly adapting the rest to each other; since of the human form it took away everything from the waist to the feet, while of the horse’s body it cut of everything down to the navel and joined the rest to the human figure, as though the horse desired the head, the neck-sinews and that part of a man’s back which broadens as it descends, while the man sought the firm support of a horse from the navel to the feet. Such being the body, you could see also a spirit breathing upon the work of art, and the savage type of body, and the animal nature coming to light in the face; and you could see the stone most beautifully interpreting the hair and every element striving to express the truth.
13. ON THE STATUE OF MEDEA
I also saw the celebrated Meda in the land of the Macedonians.42 It was of marble and disclosed the nature of her soul in that art had modelled into it the elements which constitute the soul; for a course of reasoning was revealed, and passion was surging up, and the figure was passing over into a state of grief, and, to put it briefly, what one saw was an interpretation of her whole story. For her reasoning about her course of action revealed the schemes of the woman, the passion connoted by the onset of her anger roused her nature to the deed by introducing the impulse to murder, and the grief denoted her compassion for her children, transforming without violence the expression of the marble from passion to the natural feeling of a mother. For the figure was not relentless nor brutal, but was so apportioned as to show both passion and tenderness, thus ministering to the varying purposes of her womanly nature; for it was but natural that after her wrath should turn to pity, and that when her soul came to a realization of her evil deed it should be stirred to pity. These passions the figure strove to imitate as well as the form of the body, and one could see the marble now flashing passion in its eyes, now wearing a look sullen and softened into gloom, exactly as if the artist had modelled the woman’s passionate impulse in imitation of the drama of Euripides, in which Medea not only forms her plan with the exercise of a rational intelligence, but also excites her spirit to anger as she casts aside the principles fixed by nature to govern a mother’s love for her offspring, and then after the lawless murder she speaks the fond words of a mother. Her hand was armed with the sword, being ready to minister to her passion as she hastens to her foul deed, and her hair was unkempt, a mark of squalor, and she wore a garment of mourning in conformity to the state of her soul.
14. ON THE FIGURE OF ATHAMAS 43
There was a figure on the Scythian shores, not yet up for display but fashioned not inelegantly for a contest of beauty in painting. It represented Athamas goaded on by madness.44 He was shown as naked, his hair reddened with blood and its locks flying in the wind, his eye distraught, himself filled with consternation; and he was armed not by madness alone for a rash deed, nor did he rage merely with the soul-consuming fears which the Furies send; nay, he even held a sword out in front of him, like a man making a sally. For though the figure was in reality without motion, yet it seemed not to retain a fixed position; instead it astonished those who saw it by a semblance of motion. Ino too was present, in a state of terror, trembling slightly, her face place and corpse-like though fright; and she embraced her infant child and held her breast to its lips, letting the nurturing drops fall on the nursling. The figure of Ino was hastening towards the promontory of Sceiron and the sea at the foot of the mountain, and the breakers that were wont to surge in billows were spreading out in a hollow to receive her, and something of Zephyrus pervaded the waters as he with shrill blst lulled the sea to rest. For in truth the wax45 beguiled the sense into thinking that it could fashion a breeze and cause the sea winds to rise and could apply the art of imitation to nature’s works. And sea-dolphins were sporting near by, coursing through the waves in the painting, and the wax seemed to be tossed by the wind and to become wet in imitation of the sea, assuming the sea’s own qualities. Moreover, at the outer edges of the painting an Amphitrite rose from the depths, a creature of savage and terrifying aspect who flashed from her eyes a bright radiance. And round about her stood Nereids; these were dainty and bright to look upon, distilling love’s desire from their eyes; and circling in their dance over crests of the sea’s waves, they amazed the spectator. About them flowed Oceanus, the motion of his stream being well-nigh like the billows of the sea.46
1. The statue here described corresponds to the “Satyr playing a flute” in the Villa Borghese (Brunn-Bruckman, Denkmäler griech. u. röm. Sculpture, No. 435). It is quite possible that at one time this Satyr was set up with a statue of Pan embracing the nymph Echo, for it is well known that after the death of Alexander the Great, single statues of men and gods which logically belonged together were set up together in gardens and public places. However, the question may be raised whether in this instance the nymph is really Echo. While in the myth Pan is said to have been disappointed in his love for Echo, here he is represented as enjoying the satisfaction of his love, and as eager to defend the nymph from danger which the Satyr threatens. (Benndorf.)
2. Cf. the elder Phil. Imag. i. 20, the description of Zephyrus.
3. The text seems to be imperfect. The last phrase is proverbial; cf. Aeschylus, Prom. 59, and Callistratus 9.
4. Cf. elder Phil. Imag. i. 7, and Call. 9.
5. The word means primarily to act as an interpreter for the gods, and then to speak under divine inspiration.
6. Cf. Plato, Phaedr. 354A on the madness which inspires the poet. “The third kind is the madness of those who are possessed by the Muses; which takes hold of a delicate and virgin soul, and this inspiring frenzy awakens lyrical and all other numbers; with these adorning the myriad actions of ancient heroes for the instruction of posterity.” Transl. Jowett.
7. Scopas of Paros, the sculptor of passionate emotions, worked during the first half of the fourth century B.C.
8. Cf. Anth. Pal. ix. 774: “The Bacchante is of Parian marble, but the sculptor gave life to the stone, and she springs up as if in a Bacchic fury. Scopas, thy god creating art has produced a great marvel, a Thyad, the frenzied slayer of goats.” Trans. Paton, L.C.L.
9. Cf. Eur. Bacch. 32f.: ôstrês’ egô maniais. Dionysus says, "I goaded them with madness . . .”
10. Cf. Anth.. Pal. ix. 774, and note 8 above.
11. i.e. the power of movement native to a Bacchante.
12. “Keeps alive its own creator,” i.e. its life, bestowed by the sculptor, is a continuation of the life of the latter; is “master” of its creator, in that it is divine, while he was human.
13. Since what is said of the dress and attitude of this figure agrees with the manner of Praxiteles, there appears no reason to doubt the statement of Callistratus that it is the work of that sculptor. Compare the Eros from the Chigi Collection, now in Dresden (Clarac, Mus. de sculpt. Pl. 645, No. 1467; Michaelis, Arch. Zeit., 1879, p. 173, Pl. xiv. 6), in which, however the right hip is thrown out; also the Eros from the Palatine now in the Louvre (Fröhner, Notice de la sculpt. ant., p. 311, No. 325; Furtwängler, Roscher’s Lex. d. griech. u. röm. Muth. I. 1360 f.), in which the left arm with the bow is not raised – but meteôrizôn does not necessarily mean “raised.” (Benndorf.)
14. Praxiteles of Athens, probably son of the sculptor Cephisodotus; his artistic activity falls about he middle of the fourth century B.C.
15. Cf. the younger Phil. Imag. 10, for the dancing group of Daedalus.
16. In the eastern campaigns of Alexander the Great certain orgiastic cults in India were identified with the worship of Dionysus; the names of Dionysiac legend were applied to them, statues of the Indian Dionysus were erected, and stories were told of the visit of Dionysus to India with the train of his followers. Cf. the visit of Apollonius to one of these shrines of Dionysus in India, Philostr. Vit. Apollon. 11. 8.
17. Cf. the description of Memnon, elder Phil. Imag. i. 7.
18. i.e. Tyrian purple, made from the murex.
19. The statue of Narcissus in the Vatican, (Helbig, Führer durch die Ant.-Amml. Roms, 2, 18) inscribed with the name of Phaedimus agrees in almost all respects with this description; cf. Welcker, Narcissus, p. 38 f. (Benndorf.) This interpretation of the statue of Narcissus has been disputed (cf. Greve, in Roscher, Lex. d. giech. u. röm. Myth. iii. 19). The cloak on the left shoulder is the usual garment of an Eros.
20. i.e. The statue of the boy.
21. The syrinx of shepherd’s pipe is a series of tubes of different length, fastened together side by side, to produce different notes.
22. Cf. Anth. Pal. xvi. 275, on the statue of Opportunity (Time) by Lysippus: “Why dost thou stand on tiptoe? I am ever running. And why hast thou a pair of wings on thy feet? I fly with the wind. And why doest thou hold a razor in thy right hand? As a sign to man that I am sharper than any sharp edge. And why does thy hair hang over thy face? For him who meets me to take me by the forelock. And why in Heaven’s name is the back of thy head bald? Because none whom I have raced by . . . will take hold of me from behind.” Trans. Paton, L.C.L.
This statue is to be understood, not as pure allegory, but as representing one of the mythical beings created in the classical age of Greek thought. The accounts of the god and this statue vary greatly, but the common elements in the accounts which may be conceived as belonging to a statue indicate that the type was developed out of the form of the Hermes who granted victory in athletic contests. Probably Lysippus represented him as a youth, presumably with winged feet, possibly with hair long in front and short behind to indicate that opportunity cannot be grasped when it is past, and perhaps with a razor (or a pair of scales balanced on a sharp edge) in his hand to suggest that success is balanced on a razor’s edge. Cf. Benndorf, Arch. Zeit. xxi. 87f., and Curtius, Arch. Zeit. xxxiii. 33f., Pl. 1, 2.
23. Lysippus, head of the Sicyonian school of sculptors, was a prolific sculptor of statues in bronze during the middle and latter part of the fourth century B.C.
24. i.e. beauty is always in season and seasonableness is the only artificer of beauty. Cf. “Gather ye rose-buds while ye may, old Time is still flying.” Herrick, To the Virgins to make much of Time. “Let us crown ourselves with rose-buds, before they be withered.” Wisdom of Solomon, 2. 8.
25. Cf. Pausanias, ix. 30, 4. On Helicon with statues of other poets and famous musicians “there is a statue of Orpheus the Thracian with Telete standing by his side, and round about him are beasts in stone and bronze listening to his song.”
26. Cf. younger Phil. Imag. 6.
27. Quoted from Iliad 18. 486: for the reliefs on the pedestal, Brunn (Jahrb. Phil. ciii. 21) compares the base of the Nile in the Vatican, and of the Farnese Bull.
28. Cf. younger Phil. Imag. 6.
29. Apoll. Rhod. Argon. i. 26f.: “Men say that he by the music of his songs charmed the stubborn rocks upon the mountains and the course of rivers. And the wild oak trees to this day, tokens of that magic strain . . . stand in ordered ranks close together, the same which under the charm of his lyre he led down from Pieria.” Trans. Seaton, L.C.L.
30. Cf. younger Phil. Imag. 6.
31. On statues of Dionysus by Praxiteles, cf. Furtwängler, Mesiterwerke d. griech. Plastik, p. 586, Eng. trans. p. 337. Two Praxitelian types are discussed: (a) Represented by the “Bacchus de Versailles” in the Louvre (Fröhhner, Notice, 218), the figure of a delicate youth wearing a fawn-skin fastened on the left shoulder and a Bacchic mitra in his hair which falls in curls to his shoulders, and holding his right hand over his head. (b) The Dionysus in Madris (Clarac, Pl. 690B, No. 1598A), a nude figure leaning his left arm on a bearded herm of Dionysus.
32. Cf. Eur. Bacch. 233f.: “Men say a stranger to the land hath come . . . With essenced hair in golden tresses tossed, Wine-flushed, Love’s witching graces in his eyes.” Trans. Way.
33. Cf. elder Phil. Imag. i. 7 and ii. 7. Memnon was the son of Tithonus and Day (or of Eos, the Dawn).
34. The expression occurs Callistr. 1.
35. The Greek paean was a choral song accompanied by dancing, which was used as an incantation to cure disease, as well as for celebration of a victory and in the worship of certain gods. Personified as a god, Paean was closely akin to Asclepius, and at the same time, especially at Delphi, was often identified with Apollo as Apollo Paean. Cf. Fairbanks, A Study of the Greek Paean, 1900.
36. Cf. elder Phil. Imag. ii. 15 and note.
37. Overbeck (Geschichte d. griech. Plastik, ii. 63) points out that this passage is the only extant reference to a Diadoumenos, “Youth binding his hair with a fillet,” of Praxiteles on the acropolis, no doubt the Athenian acropolis; and Furtwängler (Meisterwerke d. griech. Plastik, p.335) finds the data here given entirely insufficient to enable the student to identify any copy of this work.
38. Cf. Anth. Pal. xvi 115. On the Centaur Cheiron, “A horse is shed forth from a man, and a man springs up from a horse; a man without feet and a swift horse without a head; a horse belches out a man, and a man farts out a horse;” and 116, “There were a horse without a head and a man lying unfinished. Nature, in sport, grafted him on the swift horse.” Trans. Paton, L.C.L. Cf. also the elder Phil. 2. 3.
39. Homer never described Cheiron or the other centaurs as part horse, part man.
40. Quoted from Odyssey, 9. 191, when the expression is used of Polyphemus: “For he was fashioned a wondrous monster, and was not like a man that lives by bread, but like a wooded peak of lofty mountains, which stands out to view alone, apart from the rest.” Trans. Murray, L.C.L.
41. Cf. Eur. Her. Fur. 181: tetraskeles th’ hubrisma, Kentaurôn genos, “The four-foot monsters ask, the Centaur tribe”; Hec. 1059, tetrapodos basin thêros oresterou, "The stance of a mountain beast.”
42. Cf. Anth. Pal. xvi. 135-141 on the picture of Medea in Rome, e.g. 135: “The art of Timomachus mingled the love and jealousy of Medea, as she drags her children to death. She half consents as she looks at the sword, and half refuses, wishing both to save and to slay her children.” Trans. Paton, L.C.L. For the subject compare the Pompeian wall-painting, Baumeister, Denkmäler d. klass. Albertums, i, 142.
43. Athamas king of Orchomenos, in secret love with Ino daughter of Cadmus, became the father of Learchus and Melicertes. Smitten with madness by Hera to avenge herself on Ino, who had cared for the infant Dionysus, he slew his son Learchus. Thereupon Ino threw herself with Melicertes into the sea, where both were transformed into sea divinities. For the later story of Melicertes Palaemon see elder Phil. Imag. 2. 16 and note.
44. Cf. Callistr. 2 and note.
45. The medium for colour in the painting was wax.
46. The text of the last sentence is so imperfect that only the general meaning can be given.