Classical Texts Library >> Philostratus the Younger, Imagines >> Images 10 - 17



IMAGES 1 - 9

0. Prooemium
1. Achilles on Scyros
2. Marsyas
3. Hunters
4. Heracles or Acheloüs
5. Heracles in Swaddlings
6. Orpheus
7. Medea among the Colchians
8. Boys at Play
9. Pelops

IMAGES 10 - 17

10. Pyrrhus or the Mysians
11. The Argo or Aeëtes
12. Hesione
13. Sophocles
14. Hyacinthus
15. Meleager
16. Nessus
17. Philoctetes



The story of Eurypylus and Neoptolemus is sung by a chorus of poets, who tell us how each resembles his father and is famous for the prowess of his arm; and this painting also relates this tale. For when fortune has gathered into one city the valour of every land,2 some go away not inglorious but able to say to the world, “children of wretched men are they who encounter my wrath,” 3 and men of noble birth overcome men of noble birth.

The account of the victory is another tale, but the scene before you now has to do with the combatants. Here is the city of “beetling Ilium,” as Homer4 calls it; and a wall runs round about it such as even the gods disdained not to claim as the work of their own hands. On the other side is the station of the ships and the narrow strait of the Hellespont that separates Asia from Europe. The plain between the city and the strait is divided by the river Xanthus, which is represented, not as “roaring with foam” 5 nor yet as when it rose in flood against he son of Peleus,6 but its bed is lotus grass and rushes and foliage of tender reeds; it reclines instead of standing erect, and presses it foot on the sources7 to keep them within bounds, now moistening . . . the stream keeps within bounds.8 On either side is an army – of Mysians together with Trojans, and opposite them of Greeks; the Trojans are already exhausted, though the Mysiand under Eurypylus are fresh. You see how the former sit down in their armour, no doubt at the command of Eurypylus, and how they enjoy the respite from fighting, whereas the Mysians, full of spirit and impetuous, rush forward; and how the Greeks are in the same state as the Trojans with the exception of the Myrmidons, who are active and ready for the gray under Pyrrhus.

As for the two youthful leaders, nothing can be made out regarding their beauty, since they are clad in armour at this time, but they are certainly tall and overtop their fellows; the age of the two is the same, and to judge by the glance of their eyes they are active and unhestitating. For the eyes of each flash beneath their helmets, they bend their heads with the waving of their plumes, and their spirit stands out conspicuous in them, resembling as they do men “who breathe out wrath in silence.” 9 Both wear the armour of their fathers; but while Eurypylus is clad in armour bearing no device, which gives forth, like a rainbow,10 a light that varies with his position and movements, Pyrrhus wears the armour made by Hephaestus, which Odysseus, regretting his own victory,11 has yielded to him.

If one examines this armour he will find that none is missing of the representations in relief which Homer describes, but that the work of art reproduces all that Homer gives.12 For the representations of earth and sea and sky13 will not, I think, require anyone to explain them; for the sea is evident at once to the observer, since the craftsman has given it its proper colour; the land is designated by the cities and the other terrestrial things, and you will soon learn all about them; but here is the Sky. You see here, of course, the orb of the unwearying sun and the brightness of the full moon. But I believe you want to hear about the stars in detail, for the differences between them provide a reason for your inquiry. Here are the Pleiades, signs for sowing and for reaping14 when they set or when they appear once more, as the changing seasons bring them; and opposite them are the Hyades. You see Orion also, but the story about him and the reason why he is one of the stars we must defer to another occasion, my boy, that we may not divert you from the object of your present desire. The stars next to Orion are the Bear, or the Wain if you prefer that name. Men say that this constellation alone does not sink into Oceanus, but revolves about itself as a guard over Orion.

Let us now make our way over the earth, leaving the upper regions, and let us examine the most beautiful of things on the earth, namely, the cities.15 As you see there are two of these. Which of the two do you wish explained to you first? Do the light of the torches, and the marriage hymn, the sound of the flutes and the twanging of the lyre and the rhythmic motion of the dancers attract your attention? You see also the women visible through the vestibules as they marvel and all but shout for joy. This is a marriage, my boy, the first gathering of the bridal party, and the bridegrooms are brining their brides. I shall not attempt to desire how modesty and desire are clearly depicted in each, for the craftsman ahs suggested this with great skill. But look! Here is a court of justice and a general session, and dignified old men preside in a dignified manner over the gathering. As for the gold in the centre, the two talents here, I do not know what it is for, unless, by Zeus, on may conjecture that it is a reward to be paid to the judge who shall pronounce true judgment, in order that no judge may be influenced by gifts to give the wrong judgment.16 And what is the case? Here are two men in the centre, one of whom, I believe, is bringing a charge of bloodshed, and the other, as you see, is denying the charge; for he claims that he is not guilty of that which the accuser brings against him,17 but that, having paid the blood-money, he has come free of offence. You see also the adherents of each man, in two groups, who applaud according to their preference; but the presence of the heralds checks them and restores them to silence. This scene, accordingly, represents a state of affairs midway between war and peace in a city that is not at war.

The second city is walled,18 as you see, and those unfitted for war by reason of age guard the walls at intervals; for there are women at certain points on the battlements, and here are old men and even children. Where, pray, are their fighting men? Yonder you may find them – the men who follow Ares and Athena.19 For this is what the work of art means, I believe, indicating by the use of gold and by great stature that the leaders are gods, and giving to the others their inferior rank by this device. They are issuing forth for battle, having refused the proposals of the enemy, namely, that the wealth of the city be apportioned among them, else, if it be not so apportioned, it shall be the prize of battle. Accordingly, they are devising an ambush on this side; for that, it seems to me, is suggested by the thicket along the banks of the river, where you see men under arms. But it will not prove possible for them to profit by the ambush; for the invading army, having stationed some scouts, is contriving how to drive off the booty.20 Indeed, we see here shepherds herding their flocks to the music of pipes. Does not the simple and ingenuous and truly highland strain of their music reach your ears?21 But they have made their music for the last time; and through ignorance of the plot devised against them they die, as you see, for the enemy has attacked them, and a portion of their flocks is being driven away as booty by the raiders. A report of what has occurred has reached the men in ambush, and they rise and go into battle on horseback; you can see the banks of the river covered with men who are fighting and hurling javelins at the foe. What shall we say of those beings who pass to and fro among the combatants and of that spirit whose person and clothing are reddened with gore? These are Strife and Tumult, and the third is Doom, to whom are subject all matters of war. For you see, surely, that she follows no one course, but thrusts one man, still unwounded, into the midst of hostile swords, a second is being dragged away a corpse beneath her, while a third she urges onward wounded though he is. As for the soldiers, they are so terrifying in their onrush and their fierce gaze that they seem to me to differ not at all from living men in the charge of battle.

But look again at the works of peace. This is clearly fallow land, to be thrice-ploughed, I think, if one may judge at all by the number of the ploughmen; and in the field the ploughman frequently turns the yoke of oxen back, since a wine-cup awaits the ploughman at the end of the furrow; and the plough’s seem to make the gold turn black as it cleaves the soil. In the next scene you perceive a domain – a king’s, as I think you may infer – and the king who attests the gladness of his spirit by the radiance of his eyes. The cause of his delight is not far to seek; for that the crop greatly exceeds the sowing is proved by the workers who busily cut the grain and by those who bind the bunches of cut stalks into sheaves, while others very zealously bring them more grain to find. The oak tree stands here not unfittingly nor without good reason, for thee is abundant shade beneath it for the refreshment of such as grow weary with their labour; and yonder fat ox, that has been consecrated by the heralds whom you see, is appointed as a meal beneath the oak for those who labour at harvesting the wheat. And what do you say of the women? Do they not seem to you to be full of excitement and to be encouraging each other to knead plenty of barley meal as a dinner for the harvesters? If there should be need of fruit as well, here you have a vineyard, golden for the vines and black for the grapes. The dark blue inlay of the ditch is the device, methinks, of the artificer to indicate its depth; and you have no difficulty in recognizing in the tin inlay the barrier surrounding the vines. As for the silver in the vineyards, these are props,22 to keep the vines which are laden with fruit from being bent to the earth. And what would you say of the men gathering the grapes? Making their way through this narrow passage they pile the fruit in baskets, charming persons of an age adapted to their task. For young men and maidens move forward in rhythm, with Evian and Bacchic step, while another gives them the rhythm, one whom you doubtless recognize, not only from his lyre, but also from the fact that he seems to be singing softly to the lyre’s notes. And if you should also notice the herd of cattle which press forward to their pasture, followed by the herdsmen, you might not, indeed, marvel at the colour, although the whole scene is made of gold and tin, but the fact that you can almost hear the cows lowing in the painting and that the river along the banks of which are the cows seems to be making a splashing sound, - is not that he height of vividness? As for the lions, no one, it seems to me, could in a description do justice to them or to the bull beneath them; for the bull, that seems to bellow and quiver, is being torn to pieces, the lions having already laid hold upon its entrails. The dogs here, I believe there are nine of them, follow the herd and at the command of the herdsmen who set them on they rush close up to the lions, wishing to frighten them by barking, but the dare not come to close quarters though the herdsmen urge them even to that. And you also see sheep leaping on the mountain, and sheep-folds, and huts and pens; you are to recognize herein the home of the flocks.

One more scene remains, I think – a troup of dancers here,23 like the chorus which Daedalus is aid to have given to Ariadne, the daughter of Minos. What does the art represent? Young men and maidens with joined hands are dancing. But apparently you will not be content unless I go on and give you an accurate account of their garments also. Well, the girls here are clothed in fine linen and wear golden crowns on their heads; while the young men wear delicate thin chitons, and golden swords hang at their sides held by silver and golden swords hang at heir sides held by silver belts. But as they move in a circle, behold the result – you see in imagination the whirling of a wheel, the work of a potter making trial of his wheel to see whether or not it turns with difficulty. And as they advance again in rows, a great crowd of men approaches, who show how merry they are; for some who here in the centre are turning somersaults and exhibiting sundry kinds of dancing seem to me evidently to fill the dancers with wonder. The image of the sea on the circle of the rim is not the sea, my boy, but you are to imagine that Oceanus is designed by the artist to represent the boundary of the land depicted upon the shield. Enough has been told you of the scenes in relief.

Now turn your glance to the youths themselves and not with which of them the victory lies. For behold, Eurypylus has been laid low, Pyrrhus having given him a fatal wound in the armpit, his blood pours forth in streams, and he lies without a groan, stretched at full length upon the ground, having fallen almost before the blow was struck, so deadly was the wound. Pyrrhus still stands in the attitude of striking, his hand all covered with the copious blood which drops from his sword, when the Mysians, thinking this unendurable, advance against the youth. But he, looking at them grimly, smiles and takes his stand against their ranks; and doubtless he will soon bury the body of Eurypylus by heaping over it a mound of dead bodies.

1. In the later years of the Trojan war the son of Telephus, Priam’s nephew Eurypylus, leads the Mysians to the aid of the Trojans, where he is slain by Achilles’ son Neoptolemus (Pyrrhus) at the head of the Myrmidons. Cf. the account of Achilles and Memnon, elder Phil. Imag. i. 7.
2. The reference is to the heroes gathered at Troy.
3. Quoted from Iliad 6. 127. Cf. elder Phil. Imag. 2. 21 and note.
4. Iliad, 22. 411.
5. Ibid. 18. 403 where the phrase is used of the stream of Oceanus: cf. 21. 302f.
6. For the attack on Achilles by the river Xanthus see Iliad 21. 212f. For the personification of the river, cf. elder Phil. Imag. ii. 8 and younger Phil. Imag. 9.
7. Cf. the account of the sources of the Nile, the elder Phil. Imag. i. 5.
8. The text is corrupt.
9. Quoted from Iliad 3. 8.
10. For a garment compared to the rainbow cf. the elder Phil., Imag. i. 16; Her. 200, 2f.

11. i.e his victory in the contest for the arms of Achilles, which were by vote awarded to him as the bravest warrior, as against Ajax, who committed suicide because of his defeat.
12. It is clear that the scenes on the shield of Achilles as described by Homer were represented in painting and sculpture, for we still have fragments of the so-called Tabulae Iliacae depicting the subject (cf. Jahn-Michaelis, Griech. Bilderchroniken, ii B, p. 20, and fragments in the Capitoline Museum, Röm. Mitth. vi. 183f., Pl. iv). The shield described by Philostratus agrees with these representations in that the different subjects are depicted, not in concentric zones or circles, but in bands one over the other, so that the sky is not found in the centre of the shield as in Homer, but rather at the top of the shield. Just as the painter based his work on the Homeric description, so Philostratus, in describing the painted picture, works in many details drawn directly from Homer (Benndorf).
13. Iliad 18. 483: “Therein [on the shield of Achilles] he wrought the earth, therein the heavens, therein the sea, and the unwearied sun, and the moon at the bull, and therein all the constellations wherewith heaven is crowned – the Pleiades, and the Hyades, and the mighty Orion, and the Bear, that men call also the Wain, that circleth ever in her place, and watcheth Orion and alone hath no part in the baths of Ocean.” Trans. Murray, L.C.L.
14. Cf. Hesiod. Op. 383f.: “When the Pleiades, daughters of Atlas, are rising, begin your harvest, and your ploughing when they are going to set.” Trans. Evelyn-White, L.C.L.
15. Iliad 18. 490: “Therein fashioned he also two cities of mortal men exceeding fair. In one there were marriages and feasting, and by the light of the blazing torches they were leading the brides from their bowers through the city, and loud rose the bridal song. And young men were whirling in the dance, and in their midst flutes and lyres sounding continuously.” Trans. Murray, L.C.L.
16. The natural explanation of the “two talents” would be to regard it as the “blood-money” referred to in the next sentence.
17. i.e. voluntary homicide; but he acknowledges by his payment of the “were-geld” or blood-money the commission of involuntary homicide.
18. Cf. Iliad 18. 509 ff. for the Homeric description.
19. Here a goddess of war.
20. The difficult passage in the Iliad (18. 509-534) was variously interpreted by the ancient grammarians. Of their three interpretations as stated by Porphyry and repeated by Eusebius, none agrees with the description in Philostratus, while on phrase of Alexander Cotyaeus (p. 195, 5 Dind.), ouk edechonto tên proklêsin, “they refused the proposals of the enemy,” actually recurs in Philostratus. Evidently the latter conceived the scene as follows: - The inhabitants of the city devised an ambush against the army that threatened them, but without avail; for the enemy, after disposing its scouts shrewdly, rushed on the flocks of citizens as they were feeding by the river and slew the shepherds, who were ignorant of their danger. Thereupon those in ambush arose and joined battle with the enemy. Such is the transformation by Philostratus of the somewhat confused account in Homer, in which the city-dwellers set an ambush, send out scouts, and capture the flocks and herds of the besiegers.
21. Cf. Iliad 18. 541f.
22. Cf. the “silver props” on the shield of Heracles, Hesiod, Scut. 298.
23. For the description of the dance in Homer, see Iliad 18. 590f.


The ship, which forces its way along the river with much splashing of the oars, a maiden yonder at the stern who stands near a man in armour, the man with erect tiara25 who sings in tune with the notes of his lyre, and the serpent which sprawls over the sacred oak tree over here with many a coil and bows to the earth its head all heavy with sleep26 – in these you should recognize the river as the Phasis, the woman here as Medea, the armed man at the stern would be Jason, and when we see the lyre it is Orpheus, son of Calliope, who comes to our mind. For after the contest with the bulls Medea has charmed this serpent to sleep, the “ram’s fleece of golden wool” 27 has been seized as booty, and the crew of the Argo have now set forth in hasty flight, inasmuch as the maiden’s deeds have become known28 to the Colchians and Aeëtes. As for the crew of the Argo, what need that I should describe them to you? For you see that the muscles of their arms are swollen29 with the strain of their rowing, and that their faces have the look of men who are urging one another to haste, and the wave of the river which foams about the beak of the ship betokens that it is rushing forward with great speed. The maiden shows in her face a certain desperation of mind, for while her eyes filled with tears gaze towards the land, she is frightened at the thought of what she has done and is preoccupied in planning for the future, and she seems to me to be turning over her thoughts all to herself as she beholds in her mind each detail and has the gaze of her eyes steadfastly fixed upon the hidden secrets of her heart. Jason, who stands near her fully armed, is ready to defend her. Yon singer gives the rhythm to the oarsmen, striking up hymns to the gods, I should say, partly of thanksgiving for the success they have so far had and partly by way of supplication with reference to the fears they cherish. You also see Aeëtes on a four-horse chariot, tall and overtopping other men, wearing the war-armour30 of some giant, methinks – for the fact that he exceeds human stature leads to this impression – and his countenance is filled with wrath and he all but darts fire from his eyes, and he lifts a torch aloft in his right hand,31 for he intends to burn the Argo, sailors and all, and his spear lies ready to hand on the chariot-rail.

What, now, do you still wish to hear about the painting? Shall I describe the horses? Their nostrils are dilated,32 their heads erect, the glance of their eyes alert and particularly now when they are excited – for the painting makes you infer this – and the panting33 of the horses which are being lashed to full speed by Apsyrtus till they are reddened with blood – for it is he, they say, who is charioteer for Aeëtes – the drawing of their breath from the entire chest, and the whirling of the wheels that almost brings to your ears the rumble of the chariot, all this makes you realize the swiftness of the motion. Indeed, the spreading cloud of dust that sprinkles the sweating horses makes it difficult to determine their colour.

24. Cf. the account of the voyage of the Argo, the elder Phil. Imag. ii. 15; also younger Phil. Imag. 8.
25. For the tiara of Orpheus, cf. notes on younger Phil. Imag. 6.
26. Apoll. Rhod. Argon. 156f: “But she [Medea] . . . drawing untempered charms from her mystic brew, sprinkled the serpent’s eyes, while she chanted her song; and all around the potent scent of the charm cast sleep; and on the very spot he let his jaw sink down, and far behind . . . were those countless coils stretched out.” Trans. Seaton, L.C.L.
27. Quoted from Pindar, Pyth. 4. 68.
28. The phrase is taken from Hom. Odyss. 11. 274.
29. The phrase is taken from the elder Phil. Imag. i. 13.
30. The phrase is from Homer, Iliad 6. 340.
31. Cf. the description of Aeëtes in Apoll. Rhod. Argon. 222f “In his left hand he raised his cured shield, and in his right a huge pine torch, and near him in front took up his mighty spear.” Trans. Seaton.
32. Xenophon, Art of Horsemanship, 1. 10: “A wide dilated nostril is at once better than a contracted one for respiration, and gives the animal a fiercer aspect.”
33. Cf. the description of Amphiaraüs driving his chariot, the elder Phil. Imag. i. 27.

12. HESIONE 34

It is not, I think, at anyone’s command that the noble Heracles is undertaking this labour, nor is it possible to say this time that Eurystheus is causing him travail; rather we must say that, having made valour his master, he is submitting to tasks of his own choosing. Else why is he confronting so terrible a monster? For you see what big eyes it has, that turn about their encircling glance and glare so terribly, and that pull down over themselves the overhanging brow all savage and covered with spines; and how sharp is the projecting snout that reveals jagged “teeth in triple row,” 35 some of which are barbed and bent back to hold what they have caught, while others are sharp-pointed and rise to a great height; and you see how huge a head emerges from its crooked and supple neck. The size of it is indeed incredible, when briefly described, but the sight of it convinces the incredulous. For as the monster’s body is bent not at one point along but at many points, the parts which are under the sea are indeed visible, though in a way to deceive the accuracy of vision because of their depth, while the other parts rise from the water and would look like islands to those unacquainted with the sea. The monster was at rest when we first encountered it; but now it is in motion with a most violent onrush and raises a great noise of splashing even though the weather is calm, and yonder wave which is raised by the force of its charge surges, on the one hand, around its exposed parts as it flows over them and makes them show white beneath, and, on the other, dashes against the shore; and the bending of its tail, which tosses the sea far aloft, might be compared to the sails of a ship shining with many colours.

This wonderful man, however, has no far of these things, but the lion’s skin and the club are at his feet ready for use if he should need them; and he stands naked in the attitude of attack, thrusting forward his left leg so that it can carry the whole weight of his body as he shifts it to secure swiftness of movement, and while his left side and left hand are brought forward to stretch the bow, his right side is drawn back as his right hand draws the string to his breast. We need not seek the reason for al this, my boy, for the maiden who is fastened to the rocks is exposed as prey for the monster, and we must believe her to be Hesione, the daughter of Laomedon. And where is her father? Within the walls of the city, it seems to me, in a look-out where he can see what is going on. For you see the circuit of the city and the battlements full of men, and how they stretch out their arms towards heaven in prayer, overcome no doubt with prodigious fear lest the monster even attack the city wall, since it rushes forward as if it meant to go ashore. As for the beauty of the maiden, the occasion precludes my describing it in detail, for her fear for her life and the agony occasioned by the sight she sees are withering the flower of her beauty; but nevertheless those who see her may conjecture from her present state what its full perfection is.

34. Hesione was the daughter of Laomedon. The story is that Poseidon, angry with Laomedon for breaking his promise about the walls of Troy, sent a sea-monster to ravage the country. When an oracle promised relief if Laomedon gave his daughter to the monster to be consumed, Laomedon left her chained to the rocks on the coast; but Heracles appeared to free her and to slay the monster. Cf. the account of the freeing of Andromeda, the elder Phil. Imag. i. 29.
35. Quoted from Odyss. 12. 91.


Why do you delay, O divine Sophocles, to accept the gifts of Melpomene?37 Whey do you fix your eyes upon the ground? Since I for one do not know whether it is because you are now collecting your thoughts, or because you are awe-stricken at the presence of the goddess. But be of good heart, good sir, and accept her gifts; for the gifts of the gods are not to be rejected,38 as you no doubt know, since you have heard it from one of the devotees of Calliope. Indeed you see how the bees fly above you, and how they buzz with a pleasant and divine sound as they anoint you with mystic drops of their own dew,39 since this more than anything else is to be infused into your poesy. Surely someone40 will before long cry out, naming you the “honeycomb of kindly Muses,” and will exhort everyone to beware lest a bee fly unnoticed from your lips and insert its sting unawares. You can doubtless see the goddess herself imparting to you now sublimity of speech and loftiness of thought, and measuring out he gift with gracious smile. This is Asclepius near by, I think, doubtless urging you to write a paean,41 and though "famed for his skill" 42 he does not disdain to listen to you; and his gaze that is fixed upon you, suffused as it is with joy, dimly foreshadows his visit to you a little later as your guest.

36. Cf. the account of the birth of Pindar, the elder Phil. Imag. ii. 12.
37. The “gifts”were probably honey in the comb, such as Cheiron fed to the young Achilles (the elder Phil. Imag. ii. 2). Cf. also elder Phil. Imag. ii. 8, where the Muses in the form of bees are said to lead the Athenian ships to Ionia to found a colony; and ii. 12, where bees anoint with honey the infant Pindar. (Benndorf.)
38. Iliad 3. 65: “Not to be flung aside . . . are the glorious gifts of the gods.”
39. Cf. the elder Phil., Her. 217, 2; Amazons anoint their infants “with mare’s milk and the dew’s honeycomb.”
40. Probably Aristophanes or some other writer of the old comedy; cf. Com. Graec. Frag. Kock, iii. 402 (Mein. iv. 655).
41. Cf. Philostr. Vit. Apoll. 96, 26: “The paean of Sophocles, which they sing to Asclepius at Athens.”
42. Quoted from Hom. Hymns xix. 1.


Let us ask the youth, my boy, who he is and what is the reason for Apollo’s presence with him, for he will not be afraid to have us, at least, look at him. Well, he says that he is Hyacinthus, the son of Oebalus; and now that we have learned this we must also know the reason for the god’s presence. The son of Leto for love of the youth promises to give him all he possesses for permission to associate with him; for he will teach him the use of the bow, and music, and understanding of the art of prophecy, and not to be unskillful with the lyre, and to preside over the contest of the palaestra, and he will grant to him that, riding on a chariot drawn by swans, he should visit all the lands dear to Apollo. Here is the god, painted as usual with unshorn locks; he lifts a radiant forehead above eyes that shine like rays of light, and with a sweet smile he encourages Hyacinthus, extending his right hand with the same purpose. The youth keeps his eyes steadfastly on the ground, and they are thoughtful, for he rejoices at what he hears and tempers with modesty the confidence that is yet to come. He stands there, covering with a purple mantle the left side of his body, which is also drawn back, and he supports his right hand on a spear, the hip being thrown forward and the right side exposed to view, and this bare arm permits us to describe what is visible.44 He has a slender ankle below the straight lower leg, and above the latter this supple knee-joint; then some thighs not unduly developed and hip-joints which support the rest of the body; his side rounds out a full-lunged chest, his arm swells45 in a delicate curve,46 his neck is moderately erect, while the hair is not unkempt nor stiff from grime, but falls over his forehead and blends with the first down of his beard. The discus at his feet . . . about himself, and Eros, who is both radiant and at the same time downcast, and Zephyrus,47 who just shows his savage eye from his place of look-out – by all this the painter suggests the death of the youth, and as Apollo makes his cast, Zephyrus, by breathing athwart its course, will cause the discus to strike Hyacinthus.

43. Compare the treatement of the same theme by the elder Phil. Imag. i. 24.
44. Jacobs would amend to kai tam ê horômena elenchein, “to judge also of the parts not seen.” The text as it is can hardly be sound. For the attitude, cf. elder Phil. Imag. i. 23.
45. Compare the description of Hyacinthus by the elder Phil. Imag. i. 24.
46. i.e. robust for all its delicacy; the phrase is from the elder Phil. Her. 151, 28K.
47. The story is that Zephyrus had been a lover of Hyacinthus, and out of jealousy deflected the discus of Apollo to kill the youth.


Are you surprised to see a girl entering into so great a contest and withstanding the attack of so savage and so huge a boar? For you see how bloodshot is his eye, how his crest bristles, and how abundant is the foam that drips from his long upright tusks, which are unblunted at the point; and you see how the beast’s bulk is proportional to his stride, which indeed is indicated by these tracks that are as large as those of a bull. For the painter has not failed to embody any of these points in his painting. But the scene before us is already terrible. For the boar has attacked Ancaeus here in the thigh, and the youth lies pouring out his blood in streams and with along gaping wound in his thigh; therefore now that the contest is already under way, Atalanta – for we must recognize that the girl is she – having put to the bowstring the arrow she has ready, is about to let it fly. She wears a garment that does not reach the knee and boots fastened on her feet; her arms are bare to the shoulders for freedom of movement, and the garment is fastened there by brooches; her beauty, which is naturally of the masculine type, is made more so by the occasion, since her glance is not alluring, but she strains her eyes to observe what is going on. The youths here are Meleager and Peleus, for the painting tells us that it is they who have slain the boar; Meleager in an attitude of defence throws his weight upon his left foot, and watching closely the boar’s advance, awaits his onset securely with couched spear.

Come, let us describe him in detail. The youth is sturdy and well developed all over; his legs below the knee are firmly knit and straight, well able to carry him in the foot-race, and also good guardians for him when he fights in the hand-to-hand contest; the upper and lower parts of the thigh are in harmony with the lower leg, and the hip is the kind to make us confident that the youth will not be overthrow by the boar’s attack; his flanks are broad, his stomach lean, his breast protrudes a little, his arms are well articulated and his shoulders join in a strong neck, providing it with a firm foundation; his hair is ruddy, and at this time stands erect because of the vehemence of his attack; the flash of his eye is very bright, and his forehead is not relaxed but all instinct with passion; the expression of his face does not permit a word to be said of its beauty because it is so tense; he wears a white garment that does not reach to the knee, and his high boot that reaches above the ankle gives him secure support in walking; and letting his scarlet mantle hand in a fold from his neck he awaits the beast.

So much for the son of Oeneus; but Peleus here holds his purple mantle out before him; and he holds in his hand the sword given him by Hephaestus, as he awaits the rush of the boar; his eye is unswerving and keen of glance, and he looks as if he did not fear even to cross the borders and go with Jason on the adventure to Colchis.49

48. The Calydonian boar, according to the usual form of the story was sent by Artemis to devastate the crops of the country because she had been neglected by the King Oeneus in a harvest festival. His son Meleager, himself a great hunter, summoned the heroes of Greece to take part in the destruction of the boar. Theseus came among others, and Jason and Achilles’ father Peleus and Ancaeus with his niece Atalanta, herself a huntress and beloved of Artemis. Atalanta wounded the boar with an arrow, and Meleager finally killed it. Philostratus does not take up the rest of the story which dealt with Meleager’s love for Atalanta.
Cf. the account of a boar hunt by the elder Phil. Imag. i. 28.
49. i.e. the Argonautic expedition, cf. elder Phil. Imag. ii. 15 and younger Phil. Imag. 11.

16. NESSUS 50

Do not fear51 the river Evenus, my boy, though it rises in great waves and the water overflows its banks, for it is a painting; rather let us examine its details, to see how and in what manner they are represented in art.52 Does not the divine Heracles attract your attention as he advances thus into the middle of the river, his yes flashing fire and measuring off the distance to the mark, while he holds the bow in his outstretched left hand and still keeps his right hand in the attitude of one who has let fly the arrow?53 for he holds it close to his breast. And what would you say of the bowstring? Do you not seem to hear it sing as it lets fly the arrow? Whither is it aimed? Do you see the centaur giving his last leap? This is Nessus, I think, who alone escaped the hand of Heracles at Pholoë,54 when none but he escaped of those who wickedly attacked the hero. And he too is dead, caught in a manifest wrong to Heracles. For Nessus ferried across any who called for this service, and Heracles arrived, together with his wife and his son Hyllus; and since the river seemed unfordable, he entrusted his wife to Nessus to carry over, while he himself mounted his chariot along with his son and proceeded to cross the river. Thereupon the centaur when he reached the bank cast wanton eyes on the woman and dared a monstrous deed: and Heracles hearing her cry shot an arrow at Nessus. Deianeira is painted in the attitude of one in danger, in the extremity of her fear stretching out her arms to Heracles, while Nessus, who has just been hit by the arrow and is in convulsions, apparently has not yet given his own blood to Deianeira to be put aside for use on Heracles. The boy Hyllus stands on his father’s chariot, to the rail of which the reins are fastened so that the horses will not run away, and he claps his hands in glee and laughs at what he has not yet the strength to do.

50. The death of Heracles was attributed to the poisoned arrow with which he shot the centaur Nessus. The story is that Nessus gave Deianeira some of his blood to use as a love-charm in case the affections of Heracles strayed to another woman. When Deianeira had occasion to use it, she anointed a garment with the charm and sent it to Heracles; but when he put on the garment, the poison caused his death in agony, and Deianeira in remorse hanged herself.
51. The phrase is from the elder Phil., Her. 196, 20f.
52. Cf. younger Phil. Imag. 10 (410, 8K) for this use of technê.
53. Cf. the elder Phil. Imag. ii. 19, for this device of the painter, who chooses the moment when an action is just completed to suggest the action itself.
54. When Heracles came to Pholoë, Pholos the centaur opened the cask of wine which Dionysus had given him long before with instructions to keep it till Heracles visited him. Drunken with the wine the other centaurs attacked Heracles and were slain by his poisoned arrows with the exception of Nessus who escaped. Pholos, like Cheiron, is described as a different type of centaur; he met his death accidentally with one of the poisoned arrows.


The man who but recently was in command of an army and led the men of Meliboea against Troy to avenge Menelaus on the Phrygian, is Philoctetes the son of Poeas, noble of birth, no doubt, and one who owes his upbringing to Heracles – for Philoctetes became the servant of Heracles from early youth and was the bearer of his bow and arrows, the bow which later he received from his master as a reward for his services in lighting the funeral pyre; but now with face haggard because of his malady and with clouded brow above lowered eyes, hollow eyes with sickly glare, showing hair that is full of filth and grime, his beard unkempt, shivering, himself clothed in rags and with rags concealing his heel, my boy, he supplies the following story:- The Achaeans, when they sailed for Troy and put in at the islands, were earnestly seeking the altar of Chryse, which Jason had formerly erected when he made his voyage to Colchis; and Philoctetes, remembering the altar from his visit to it with Heracles, pointed it out to the searchers, whereupon a water-serpent drove its poison onto one of his feet. Then the Achaeans et sail for Troy, but he was left here in Lemnos, “his foot dripping with devouring poison,” 56 as Sophocles says . . . [the rest of this text is no longer extant]


55. The story of Philoctetes was treated by Aeschylus and Euripides, as well as in the extant drama of Sophocles. When the Greeks learned from an oracle that the bow and arrows of Heracles were necessary for the capture of Troy, Neoptolemus was sent to get Philoctetes and these weapons from Lemnos. Neoptolemus won his confidence and received the bow and arrows, but refused to betray the trust. Only when Heracles appeared from heaven to direct Philoctetes to let them go were they secured for use against Troy.
56. Quoted from Soph. Phil. 7.