Pericles: Funeral Oration
Hi, I am required to make a paper based on the article that I am going to attach. This is the description from my professor regarding the paper:
Please read Pericles’ “Funeral Oration” (pages 1-5 of the provided PDF, including the opening remarks, which give a bit of background), excerpted from Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War. Write a well-organized and well-written response of no more than one page (double-spaced, 12 point Times New Roman font, 1 inch margins) in which you address the following: How does Pericles characterize Athenian society? What is valued in Athenian culture? What do you learn about Athens’ visual culture from his speech?
We are not allowed to use any other sources other than the article that is given by the professor. Thank you so much and good luck.
ART HUMANITIES: PRIMARY SOURCE READER Section 1: The Parthenon
Art Humanities Primary Source Reading 1
Oration of Pericles” EXCERPT FROM HISTORY OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR, 5TH CENTURY B.C.
Thucydides, one of the most important Greek writers of the period during which the Parthenon was constructed, is the author of a history of the war between Athens and Sparta (the so-called Peloponnesian War, 431-404 BCE). As an Athenian general, Thucydides was a first-hand witness to the conflict. His history, an incomplete work in eight books, includes a famous speech by the statesman Pericles, one of the most prominent leaders of the Athenian democracy. The speech is a funeral oration, delivered during public ceremonies the winter after the beginning of the war to honor soldiers killed in the first campaign. As a tribute to the fallen, Pericles praises the city of Athens as the embodiment of the ideals Athenian soldiers died to defend. To the grieving populace, he says: “I would have you day by day fix your eyes upon the greatness of Athens,” alluding at least in part to the city’s massive religious sanctuary, whose centerpiece was the Parthenon. Set high above the city on the Acropolis plateau, this temple to Athena had been inaugurated in 432, only one year before the outbreak of war. The Parthenon and its lavish sculptural decoration transformed the Acropolis into a celebration of Athenian civic principles and pride; it was in many ways a political monument as well as a religious center.
The Greek world of the 5th century BCE was divided into more or less autonomous city-states, of which Athens and Sparta were among the most powerful and feared. While the strength and discipline of the Spartan land army is legendary even today, the Athenians, with their enormous fleet, held a decided advantage at sea. Around these two powers gathered an ever-shifting kaleidoscope of allies; battles were fought on many fronts throughout the Greek mainland, among the Aegean islands, and at sites as far distant as Sicily. Pericles himself succumbed to the plague which swept Athens only a few years after he delivered this funeral oration. After twenty-seven years of war, the city was eventually starved into submission. Though the Athenians soon threw off the Spartan yoke, they never regained the old confidence described so eloquently by Pericles and given such splendid visual form by the monuments of the Acropolis.
34. During the same winter, in accordance with an old national custom, the funeral of those who first fell in this war was celebrated by the Athenians at the public charge. The ceremony is as follows: Three days before the celebration they erect a tent in which the bones of the dead are laid out, and every one brings to his own dead any offering which he pleases. At the time of the funeral the bones are placed in chests of cypress wood, which are conveyed on hearses; there is one chest for each tribe. They also carry a single empty litter decked with a pall for all whose bodies are missing, and cannot be recovered after the battle. The procession is accompanied by any one who chooses, whether citizen or stranger, and the female relatives of the deceased are present at the place of interment and make lamentation. The public sepulchre is situated in the most beautiful spot outside the walls; there they always bury those who fall in the war; only after the battle of Marathon the dead, in recognition of their pre-eminent valour, were interred on the field. When the remains have been laid in the earth, some man of known ability and high reputation, chosen by the city, delivers a suitable oration over them; after which
the people depart. Such is the manner of interment; and the ceremony was repeated from time to time throughout the war. Over those who were the first buried Pericles was chosen to speak. At the fitting moment he advanced from the sepulchre to a lofty stage, which had been erected in order that he might be heard as far as possible by the multitude, and spoke as follows:
35. “Most of those who have spoken here before me have commended the lawgiver who added this oration to our other funeral customs; it seemed to them a worthy thing that such an honour should be given at their burial to the dead who have fallen on the field of battle. But I should have preferred that, when men’s deeds have been brave, they should be honoured in deed only, and with such an honour as this public funeral, which you are now witnessing. Then the reputation of many would not have been imperilled on the eloquence or want of eloquence of one, and their virtues believed or not as he spoke well or ill. For it is difficult to say neither too little nor too much; and even moderation is apt not to give the impression of truthfulness. The friend of the dead who knows the facts is likely to think that the words of the speaker fall short of his knowledge and of his wishes; another who is not so well informed, when he hears of anything which surpasses his own powers, will be envious and will suspect exaggeration. Mankind are tolerant of the praises of others so long as each hearer thinks that he can do as well or nearly as well himself, but, when the speaker rises above him, jealousy is aroused and he begins to be incredulous. However, since our ancestors have set the seal of their approval upon the practice, I must obey, and to the utmost of my power shall endeavour to satisfy the wishes and beliefs of all who hear me.
36. “I will speak first of our ancestors, for it is right and seemly that now, when we are lamenting the dead, a tribute should be paid to their memory There has never been a time when they did not inhabit this land, which by their valour they have handed down from generation to generation, and we have received from them a free state. But if they were worthy of praise, still more were our fathers who added to their inheritance, and after many a struggle transmitted to their sons this great empire. And we ourselves assembled here to-day, who are still most of us in the vigour of life, have carried the work of improvement further, and have richly endowed our city with all things, so that she is sufficient for herself both in peace and war. Of the military exploits by which our various possessions were acquired, or of the energy with which we or our fathers drove back the tide of war, Hellenic or Barbarian, I will not speak; for the tale would be long and is familiar to you. But before I praise the dead, I should like to point out by what principles of action we rose to power, and under what institutions and through what manner of life our empire became great. For I conceive that such thoughts are not unsuited to the occasion, and that this numerous assembly of citizens and strangers may profitably listen to them.
37. “Our form of government does not enter into rivalry with the institutions of others. We do not copy our neighbours, but are an example to them. It is true that we are called a democracy, for the administration is in the hands of the many and not of the few. But while the law secures equal justice to all alike in their private disputes, the claim of excellence is also recognised; and when a citizen is in any way distinguished, he is preferred to the public service, not as a matter of privilege, but as the reward of merit. Neither is poverty a bar, but a man may benefit his country whatever be the obscurity of his condition. There is no exclusiveness in our public life, and in our private intercourse we are not suspicious of one another, nor angry with our neighbour if he does what he likes; we do not put on sour looks at him which, though harmless, are not pleasant. While we are thus unconstrained in our private intercourse, a spirit of reverence pervades our public acts; we are prevented from doing wrong by respect for the authorities and for the laws, having an especial regard to those which are ordained for the protection of the injured as well as to those unwritten laws which bring upon the transgressor of them the reprobation of the general sentiment.
38. “And we have not forgotten to provide for our weary spirits many relaxations from toil; we have regular games and sacrifices throughout the year; our homes are beautiful and elegant; and the delight which we daily feel in all these things helps to banish melancholy. Because of the greatness of our city the fruits of the whole earth flow in upon us; so that we enjoy the goods of other countries as freely as of our own.
39. “Then, again, our military training is in many respects superior to that of our adversaries. Our city is thrown open to the world, and we never expel a foreigner or prevent him from seeing
or learning anything of which the secret if revealed to an enemy might profit him. We rely not upon management or trickery, but upon our own hearts and hands. And in the matter of education, whereas they from early youth are always undergoing laborious exercises which are to make them brave, we live at ease, and yet are equally ready to face the perils which they face.1 And here is the proof. The Lacedaemonians come into Attica not by themselves, but with their whole confederacy following; we go alone into a neighbour’s country; and although our opponents are fighting for their homes and we on a foreign soil, we have seldom any difficulty in overcoming them. Our enemies have never yet felt our united strength; the care of a navy divides our attention, and on land we are obliged to send our own citizens everywhere. But they, if they meet and defeat a part of our army, are as proud as if they had routed us all, and when defeated they pretend to have been vanquished by us all.
40. “If then we prefer to meet danger with a light heart but without laborious training, a courage which is gained by habit and not enforced by law, are we not greatly the gainers? Since we do not anticipate the pain, although, when the hour comes, we can be as brave as those who never allow themselves to rest; and thus too our city is equally admirable in peace and in war. For we are lovers of the beautiful, yet simple in our tastes, we cultivate the mind without loss of manliness. Wealth we employ, not for talk and ostentation, but when there is a real use for it. To avow poverty with us is no disgrace; the true disgrace is in doing nothing to avoid it. An Athenian citizen does not neglect the state because he takes care of his own household; and even those of us who are engaged in business have a very fair idea of politics. We alone regard a man who takes no interest in public affairs, not as a harmless, but as a useless character; and if few of us are originators, we are all sound judges of a policy. The great impediment to action is, in our opinion, not discussion, but the want of that knowledge which is gained by discussion preparatory to action. For we have a peculiar power of thinking before we act and of acting too, whereas other men are courageous from ignorance but hesitate upon reflection. And they are surely to be esteemed the bravest spirits who, having the clearest sense both of the pains and pleasures of
life, do not on that account shrink from danger. In doing good, again, we are unlike others; we make our friends by conferring, not by receiving favours. Now he who confers a favour is the firmer friend, because he would fain by kindness keep alive the memory of an obligation; but the recipient is colder in his feelings, because he knows that in requiting another’s generosity he will not be winning gratitude but only paying a debt. We alone do good to our neighbours not upon a calculation of interest but in the confidence of freedom and in a frank and fearless spirit. 41. To sum up: I say that Athens is the school of Hellas, and that the individual Athenian in his own person seems to have the power of adapting himself to the most varied forms of action with the utmost versatility and grace. This is no passing and idle word, but truth and fact; and the assertion is verified by the position to which these qualities have raised the state. For in the hour of trial Athens alone among her contemporaries is superior to the report of her. No enemy who comes against her is indignant at the reverses which he sustains at the hands of such a city; no subject complains that his masters are unworthy of him. And we shall assuredly not be without witnesses; there are mighty monuments of our power which will make us the wonder of this and of succeeding ages; we shall not need the praises of Homer or of any other panegyrist whose poetry may please for the moment, although his representation of the facts will not bear the light of day. For we have compelled every land and every sea to open a path for our valour, and have everywhere planted eternal memorials of our friendship and of our enmity. Such is the city for whose sake these men nobly fought and died; they could not bear the thought that she might be taken from them; and every one of us who survive should gladly toil on her behalf. 42. “I have dwelt upon the greatness of Athens because I want to show you that we are contending for a higher prize than those who enjoy none of these privileges, and to establish by manifest proof the merit of the men whom I am now commemorating. Their loftiest praise has been already spoken. For in magnifying the city I have magnified them, and men like them whose virtues made her glorious. And of how few Hellenes can it be said as of them, that their deeds when weighed in the balance have been found equal to their fame! Methinks that a death such as theirs has been gives the true measure of a man’s worth; it may be the first revelation of his virtues, but is at any rate their final seal. For even those who come short in other ways may justly plead the valour with which they have fought for their country; they have
blotted out the evil with the good, and have benefited the state more by their public services than they have injured her by their private actions. None of these men were enervated by wealth or hesitated to resign the pleasures of life; none of them put off the evil day in the hope, natural to poverty, that a man, though poor, may one day become rich. But, deeming that the punishment of their enemies was sweeter than any of these things, and that they could fall in no nobler cause, they determined at the hazard of their lives to be honourably avenged, and to leave the rest. They resigned to hope their unknown chance of happiness; but in the face of death they resolved to rely upon themselves alone. And when the moment came they were reminded to resist and suffer, rather than to fly and save their lives; they ran away from the word of dishonour, but on the battle-field their feet stood fast, and in an instant, at the height of their fortune, they passed away from the scene, not of their fear, but of their glory.
43. “Such was the end of these men; they were worthy of Athens, and the living need not desire to have a more heroic spirit, although they may pray for a less fatal issue. The value of such a spirit is not to be expressed in words. Any one can discourse to you for ever about the advantages of a brave defence, which you know already But instead of listening to him I would have you day by day fix your eyes upon the greatness of Athens, until you become filled with the love of her; and when you are impressed by the spectacle of her glory, reflect that this empire has been acquired by men who knew their duty and had the courage to do it, who in the hour of conflict had the fear of dishonour always present to them, and who, if ever they failed in an enterprise, would not allow their virtues to be lost to their country, but freely gave their lives to her as the fairest offering which they could present at her feast. The sacrifice which they collectively made was individually repaid to them; for they received again each one for himself a praise which grows not old, and the noblest of all sepulchers — I speak not of that in which their remains are laid, but of that in which their glory survives, and is proclaimed always and on every fitting occasion both in word and deed. For the whole earth is the sepulchre of famous men; not only are they commemorated by columns and inscriptions in their own country, but in foreign lands there dwells also an unwritten memorial of them, graven not on stone but in the hearts of men. Make them your examples, and, esteeming courage to be freedom and freedom to be happiness, do not weigh too nicely the perils of war. The unfortunate who has no hope of a change for the better has less reason to throw away his life than the prosperous who, if he survive, is always liable to a change for the worse, and to whom any accidental fall makes the most serious difference. To a man of spirit, cowardice and disaster coming together are far more better than death striking him unperceived at a time when he is full of courage and animated by the general hope.
44. “Wherefore I do not now commiserate the parents of the dead who stand here; I would rather comfort them. You know that your life has been passed amid manifold vicissitudes; and that they may be deemed fortunate who have gained most honour, whether an honourable death like theirs, or an honourable sorrow like yours, and whose days have been so ordered that the term of their happiness is likewise the term of their life. I know how hard it is to make you feel this, when the good fortune of others will too often remind you of the gladness which once lightened your hearts. And sorrow is felt at the want of those blessings, not which a man never knew, but which were a part of his life before they were taken from him. Some of you are of an age at which they may hope to have other children, and they ought to bear their sorrow better; not only will the children who may hereafter be born make them forget their own lost ones, but the city will be doubly a gainer. She will not be left desolate, and she will be safer. For a man’s council cannot have equal weight or worth, when he alone has no children to risk in the general danger. To those of you who have passed their prime, I say: “Congratulate yourselves that you have been happy during the greater part of your days; remember that your life of sorrow will not last long, and be comforted by the glory of those who are gone. For the love of honour alone is ever young, and not riches, as some say, but honour is the delight of men when they are old and useless.”
45. “To you who are the sons and brothers of the departed, I see that the struggle to emulate them will be an arduous one. For all men praise the dead, and, however pre-eminent your virtue may be, hardly will you be thought, I do not say to equal, but even to approach them. The living have their rivals and detractors, but when a man is out of the way, the honour and good-will which he receives is unalloyed. And, if I am to speak of womanly virtues to those of
you who will henceforth be widows, let me sum them up in one short admonition: To a woman not to show more weakness than is natural to her sex is a great glory, and not to be talked about for good or for evil among men. 46. “I have paid the required tribute, in obedience to the law, making use of such fitting words as I had. The tribute of deeds has been paid in part; for the dead have been honourably interred, and it remains only that their children should be maintained at the public charge until they are grown up: this is the solid prize with which, as with a garland, Athens crowns her sons living and dead, after a struggle like theirs. For where the rewards of virtue are greatest, there the noblest citizens are enlisted in the service of the state. And now, when you have duly lamented, every one his own dead, you may depart.”
47. Such was the order of the funeral celebrated in this winter, with the end of which ended the first year of the Peloponnesian War. As soon as summer returned, the Peloponnesian army, comprising as before two thirds of the force of each confederate state, under the command of the Lacedaemonian king Archidamus, the son of Zeuxidamus, invaded Attica, where they established themselves and ravaged the country. They had not been there many days when the plague broke out at Athens for the first time. A similar disorder is said to have previously smitten many places, particularly Lemnos, but there is no record of such a pestilence occurring elsewhere, or of so great a destruction of human life. For a while physicians, in ignorance of the nature of the disease, sought to apply remedies; but it was in vain, and they themselves were among the first victims, because they often came into contact with it. No human art was of any avail, and as to supplications in temples, enquiries of oracles, and the like, they were utterly useless, and at last men were overpowered by the calamity and gave them all up.
NOTES 1. Or, “perils such as our strength can bear”; or “perils which are enough to daunt us.”
Thucydides’ “Funeral Oration of Pericles” from History of the Peloponnesian War was translated by Benjamin Jowett. Clarendon Press, 1900.
Art Humanities Primary Source Reading 2
Plutarch, “Life of Pericles”
(c. 495-429 B.C.) EXCERPTS FROM THE RISE AND FALL OF ATHENS, 105-115 A.D.
The emperor Augustus once caught sight of some wealthy foreigners in Rome, who were carrying about young monkeys and puppies in their arms and caressing them with a great show of affection. We are told that he then asked whether the women in those countries did not bear children, thus rebuking in truly imperial fashion those who squander upon animals that capacity for love and affection which in the natural order of things should be reserved for our fellow men. In the same way, since nature has endowed us with a lively curiosity and love of knowledge, we ought equally to blame the people who abuse these gifts and divert them to objects which are unworthy of attention, while they neglect those which have the best claim to it. It is true, of course, that our outward sense cannot avoid apprehending the various objects it encounters, merely by virtue of their impact and regardless of whether they are useful or not: but a man’s conscious intellect is something which he may bring to bear or avert as he chooses, and he can very easily transfer it to another object if he sees fit. For this reason we ought to seek out virtue not merely to contemplate it, but to derive benefit from doing so. A colour, for example, is well suited to the eye if its bright and agreeable tones stimulate and refresh the vision, and in the same way we ought to apply our intellectual vision to those models which can inspire it to attain its own proper virtue through the sense of delight they arouse.
We find these examples in the actions of good men, which implant an eager rivalry and a keen desire to imitate them in the minds of those who have sought them out, whereas our admiration for other forms of action does not immediately prompt us to do the same ourselves. On the contrary, it is quite possible for us to take pleasure in the work and at the same time look down on the workman. In the case of perfumes or dyes, for example, we are delighted by the product, but regard perfumers and dyers as uncouth persons who follow a mean occupation. The same idea was well expressed by Antisthenes, when he was told that Ismenius was in excellent oboe-player, and retorted: ‘Then he must be good for nothing else, otherwise he would never play the oboe so well’/ We are told, too, that King Philip of Macedon, when his son was playing the harp delightfully and with great virtuosity at a drinking-party, asked him: ‘Are you not ashamed to play as well as that?’ For a king it is surely enough if he can find time to hear others play, and he pays great honour to the Muses if he does no more than attend such contests as a spectator.
1. On the other hand a man who occupies himself with servile tasks proves by the very pains which he devotes to them that he is indifferent to higher things. No young man of good breeding and high ideals feels that he must be a Pheidias or a Polycleitus after seeing the statue of Zeus at Olympia or Hera at Argos, nor does he aspire to be an Anacreon or a Philetas or an Archilochus, because of the pleasure he derives from their poems, for it does not necessarily follow that because a particular work succeeds in charming us its creator also deserves our admiration. We may say, then, that achievements of this kind, which do not arouse the spirit of emulation or create any passionate desire to imitate them, are of no great benefit to the spectator. On the other hand virtue in action immediately takes such hold of a man that he no sooner admires a deed than he sets out to follow in the steps of the doer. Fortune we prize for the good things we may possess and enjoy from her, but virtue for the good deeds we can perform: the former we are content to receive at the hands of others, but the latter we desire others to experience from ourselves. Moral good, in a word, has a power to attract towards itself. It is no sooner seen than it rouses the spectator to action, and yet it does not form his character by mere initiation, but by promoting the understanding of virtuous deeds it provides him with a dominating purpose.
These, then, are the reasons which have impelled me to persevere in my biographical writings, and I have therefore devoted this tenth book to the lives of Pericles and of Fabius Maximus, who waged such a long war with Hannibal. The two men possessed many virtues in common, but above all through
their moderation, their uprightness, and their ability to endure the follies of their peoples and their colleagues in office, they rendered the very greatest service to their countries. Whether my judgement is accurate, the reader must decide from what is written here.
2. Pericles belonged to the tribe of Acamantis and the deme of Cholargus, and he was descended on both sides from the noblest lineage in Athens. His father was Xanthippus, who defeated the Persian generals at Mycale.2 His mother, Agariste, was the niece of that Cleisthenes who not only performed the noble exploit of driving out the Pisistratids and destroying their tyranny, but went on to establish laws and a constitution that was admirably balanced so as to promote harmony between the citizens and security for the whole state. Agariste once had a dream that she had given birth to a lion, and a few days later she was delivered of Pericles. His physical features were almost perfect, the only exception being his head, which was rather long and out of proportion. For this reason almost all his portraits show him wearing a helmet, since the artists apparently did not wish to taunt him with this deformity. However, the comic poets of Athens nicknamed him ‘schinocephalus’ or ‘squill-head/ and Cratinus3 for example, in his play The Tutors says that ‘Old Cronos mated with the goddess of party- strife, and their offspring was the biggest tyrant of all: now the gods call him “The Head-CompeUer/” And again in his Nemesis he refers to ‘Zeus, the protector of foreigners and heads/ Telecleides describes Pericles as sitting on the Acropolis at his wits end, ‘at one moment top-heavy with the load of the cares of state, and at another creating all the din of war by himself, from that brain-pan of his, which is big enough to hold eleven couches/ And Eupolis in The Demes^ asks questions about each of the great popular leaders as they come up from Hades, and remarks, when Pericles’ name is called out last:
Now you have brought us up the very head Of those in the world below.
4. His teacher in music,5 most writers agree, was Damon (whose name should be pronounced with the first syllable short), although according to Aristotle6 he had a thorough musical training at the hands of Pythocleides. This Damon appears to have been a sophist of the highest order, who used his musical teaching as a screen to conceal his real talents from the world in general; in fact it was he who trained Pericles for his political contests, much as a masseur or trainer prepares an athlete. However, Damon’s lyre did not succeed in imposing upon the Athenians, and he was banished by ostracism on the grounds of being a great intriguer and supporter of tyranny, and he also became a target for the comic poets. At any rate Plato, the comic dramatist, makes one of his characters speak these lines to him:
First of all answer my cmestion, I beg you, For you are the Chiron7, they say, who tutored Pericles.
Pericles also studied under Zeno the Eleatic at the period when, like Parmenides, he was lecturing on natural philosophy. Zeno8 had perfected a technique of cross-examination which enabled him to corner his opponent by the method of question and answer, and Timon of Phlius has described him as
Zeno, assailer of all things, whose tongue like a double-edged weapon Argued on either side with an irresistible fury.
But there was one man more closely associated with Pericles than any other, who did most to clothe him with a majestic bearing that was more potent than any demagogue’s appeal, and who helped to develop the natural dignity of his character to the highest degree. This was Anaxagoris of Clazomenae, whom the men of his time used to call Intelligence personified. They gave him this name either out of admiration for the extraordinary intellectual powers he displayed in the investigation of natural phenomena, or else because he was the first to dethrone Chance and Necessity and set up pure Intelligence in their place as the principle of law and order which informs the universe, and which distinguishes from an otherwise chaotic mass those substances which possess elements in common.
5. Pericles had an unbounded admiration for Anaxagoras, and his mind became steeped in the so-called higher philosophy and abstract speculation. From it he derived not only a dignity of spirit and a nobility of utterance which was entirely free from the vulgar and unscrupulous buffooneries of mob-oratory, but also a composure of countenance that never dissolved into laughter, a serenity in his movements and in the graceful arrangement of his dress which nothing could disturb while he was speaking, a firm and evenly modulated voice, and other characteristics of the same kind which deeply impressed his audience. It is a fact, at any rate, that once in the marketplace, where he had urgent business to transact, he allowed himself to be abused and reviled for an entire day by some idle hooligan without uttering a word in reply. Towards evening he returned home unperturbed, while the man followed close behind, still heaping every kind of insult upon him. When Pericles was about to go indoors, as it was now dark, he ordered one of his servants to take a torch and escort the man all the way to his own house.
7. As a young man Pericles was inclined to shrink from facing the people. One reason for this was that he was considered to bear a distinct resemblance to the tyrant Pisistratus, and when men who were well on in years remarked on the charm of Pericles’ voice and the smoothness and fluency of his speech, they were astonished at the resemblance between the two. The fact that he was rich and that he came of a distinguished family and possessed exceedingly powerful friends made the fear of ostracism very real to him, and at the beginning of his career he took no part in politics but devoted himself to soldiering, in which he showed great daring and enterprise. However, the time came when Aristides was dead, Themistocles in exile, and Cimon frequently absent on distant campaigns. Then at last Pericles decided to attach himself to the people’s party and to take up the cause of the poor and the many instead of that of the rich and the few, in spite of the fact that this was quite contrary to his own temperament, which was thoroughly aristocratic. He was afraid, apparently, of being suspected of aiming at a dictatorship; so when he saw that Cimon’s sympathies were strongly with the nobles and that he was the idol of the aristocratic party, he began to ingratiate himself with the people, partly for self- preservation and partly by way of securing power against his rival.
8. Pericles, however, took care not to make himself too familiar a figure, even to the people, and he only addressed them at long intervals. He did not choose to speak on every question, but reserved himself, as Critolaus says, like the state galley, the Salamina, for great occasions, and allowed his friends and other public speakers to deal with less important matters.
9. Pericles wished to equip himself with a style of speaking which like a musical accomplishment, should harmonize perfectly with his mode of We and the grandeur of his ideals, and he often made use of the instrument which Anaxagoras had put into his hand and tinged his oratory, as it were, with natural philosophy. It was from this philosophy that he had acquired, in addition to his natural gifts, what the divine Plato calls “the loftiness of thought and the power to create an ideally perfect work,”9 and by applying this training to the art of oratory he far excelled allother speakers. This was the reason, some people say, for his being nicknamed the Olympian, though others believe that it was on account of the buildings with which he adorned Athens, and others again because of his prowess as a statesman and a general; but it may well have been the combination of many qualities which earned him the name. However, the comic poets of the time, who were constantly letting fly at him either in earnest or in fun, declare that the title originated mainly from his manner of speaking. They refer to him as thundering and lightning when he addressed his audience and as wielding a terrible thunderbolt in his tongue. A saying of Thucydides,10 the son of Melesias, has come down to us, which was uttered in jest, but which bears witness to Pericles’ powers of persuasion. Thucydides belonged to the aristocratic party and was a political opponent of Pericles for many years. When Archidamus, the king of Sparta, asked him whether he or Pericles was the better wrestler, Thucydides replied: “Whenever I throw him at wrestling, he beats me by arguing that he was never down, and he can even make the spectators believe it.”
The truth is, however, that even Pericles was extremely cautious in his use of words, so much so that whenever he rose to speak, he uttered a prayer that no word might escape his lips which was unsuited to the matter in hand. He left nothing behind him in writing except for the decrees he proposed, and only a very few of his sayings have been handed down…. Stesimbrotus also records that in his funeral oration for those who had fallen in the war against Samos, Pericles declared that these men had become immortal like the gods: “for we cannot see the gods,” he said, “but we believe them to be immortal from the honours we pay them and the blessings we receive from them, and so it is with those who have given their lives for their country.”
Thucydides11 characterizes Pericles’ administration as having been distinctly aristocratic— ”democracy in name, but in practice government by the first citizen/ But many other writers maintain that it was he who first led on the people into passing such measures as the allotment12 to Athenians of lands belonging to subject peoples, or the granting of allowances13 for the public festivals and fees14 for various public services, and that because of his policy they fell into bad habits and became extravagant and undisciplined instead of frugal and self-sufficient as they had once been. Let us consider in the light of the facts what may account for this change in his policy.
At the beginning of his career, as we have seen, Pericles had to measure himself against Cimon’s reputation, and he therefore set out to win the favour of the people. He could not compete with the wealth or the property by means of which Cimon captured the affections of the poor; for the latter supplied a free dinner every day to any Athenian who needed it, provided clothes for the old, and took down the fences on his estates so that anyone who wished could pick the fruit. So finding himself outmatched in this kind of popular appeal, Pericles turned his attention to the distribution of the public wealth.
11. The aristocratic party had already recognized for some time that Pericles was now the most important man in Athens and that he wielded far more power than any other citizen. But they were anxious that there should be someone in the city capable of standing up to him so as to blunt the edge of his authority and prevent it from becoming an outright monarchy. They therefore put forward Thucydides, of Alopece, a man of good sense and a relative of Cimon, to lead the opposition. He was less of a soldier than Cimon, but better versed in forensic business and an abler politician, and by watching his oppor- tunities at home and engaging Pericles in debate, he soon succeeded in creating a balance of power in Athenian affairs. He did not allow the aristocrats, the so-called party of the good and true, to become dispersed among the mass of the people in the Assembly, as they had done in die past, with the result that their influence had been swamped by sheer numbers. Instead, by separating and grouping them in a single body, he was able to concentrate their strength and make it an effective counterweight in the scale. Below the surface of affairs in Athens, there had existed from the very beginning a kind of flaw or seam, such as one finds in a piece of iron, which gave a hint of the rift that divided the aims of the popular and the aristocratic parties; but now these two men’s rival ambitions and their struggle for power sharply widened this cleavage and caused the one side to be named the party of the many and the other of the few. Pericles therefore chose this moment to hand over the reins of power to the people to a greater extent than ever before and deliberately shaped his policy to please them. He constantly provided public pageants, banquets, and processions in the city, entertaining the people like children with elegant pleasures; and he sent out sixty triremes to cruise every year, in which many of the citizens served with pay for eight months and learned and practiced seamanship at the same time. Besides this, he dispatched 1,000 settlers to the Chersonese, 500 to Naxos, 250 to Andros, 1000 to Thrace to make their homes with the Bisaltae, and others to the new colony named Thurii, which was founded in Italy near the site of Sybaris. In this way he relieved the city of a large number of idlers and agitators, raised the standards of the poorest classes, and, by installing garrisons among the allies, implanted at the same time a healthy fear of rebellion.
12. But there was one measure above all which at once gave the greatest pleasure to the Athenians, adorned their city and created amazement among the rest of mankind, and which is today the sole testimony that the tales of the ancient power and glory of Greece are not mere fables. By this I mean his construction of temples and public buildings; and yet it was this, more than any other action of his, which his enemies slandered and misrepresented. They cried out in the Assembly that Athens had lost her good name and disgraced herself by transferring from Delos into her own keeping the funds that had been contributed by the rest of Greece, and that now the most plausible excuse for this action, namely, that the money had been removed for fear of the barbarians and was being guarded in a safe place, had been demolished by Pericles himself. “The Greeks must be outraged,” they cried. “They must consider this an act of barefaced tyranny, when they see that with their own contributions, extorted from them by force for the war against the Persians, we are gilding and beautifying our city, as if it were some vain woman decking herself out with costly stones and statues and temples worth millions of money.”
Pericles’ answer 6 to the people was that the Athenians were not obliged to give the allies any account of how their money was spent, provided that they carried on the war for them and kept the Persians away. “They do not give us a single horse, nor a soldier, nor a ship. All they supply is money/ he told the Athenians, “and this belongs not to the people who give it, but to those who receive it, so long as they provide the services they are paid for. It is no more than fair that after Athens has been equipped with all she needs to carry on the war, she should apply the surplus to public works, which, once completed, will bring her glory for all time, and while they are being built will convert that surplus to immediate use. In this way all kinds of enterprises and demands will be created which will provide inspiration for every art, find employment for every hand, and transform the whole people into wage- earners, so that the city will decorate and maintain herself at the same time from her own resources/
Certainly it was true that those who were of military age and physically in their prime could always earn their pay from the public funds by serving on Pericles’ various campaigns. But he was also anxious that the unskilled masses, who had no military training, should not be debarred from benefitting from the national income, and yet should not be paid for sitting about and doing nothing. So he boldly laid before the people proposals for immense public works and plans for buildings, which would involve many different arts and industries and require long periods to complete, his object being that those who stayed at home, no less than those serving in the fleet or the army or on garrison duty, should be enabled to enjoy a share of the national wealth. The materials to be used were stone, bronze, ivory, gold, ebony, and cypress-wood, while the arts or trades which wrought or fashioned them were those of carpenter, modeller, coppersmith, stone-mason, dyer, worker in gold and ivory, painter, embroiderer, and engraver, and besides these the carriers and suppliers of the materials, such as merchants, sailors, and pilots for the sea-borne traffic, and wagon-makers, trainers of draught animals, and drivers for everything that came by land. There were also rope-makers, weavers, leatherworkers, road builders and miners. Each individual craft, like a general with an army under his separate command, had its own corps of unskilled labourers at its disposal, and these worked in a subordinate capacity, as an instrument obeys the hand, or the body the soul, and so through these various demands the city’s prosperity was extended far and wide and shared among every age and condition in Athens.
13. So the buildings arose, as imposing in their sheer size as they were inimitable in the grace of their outlines, since the artists strove to excel themselves in the beauty of their workmanship. And yet the most wonderful thing about them was the speed with which they were completed. Each of them, men supposed, would take many generations to build, but in fact the entire project was carried through in the high summer of one man’s administration. On the other hand we are told that when Zeuxis the painter once heard Agatharchus boasting about how swiftly and easily he painted his figures, his retort was, “Mine take, and last, a long time/ Certainly mere dexterity and speed of execution seldom give a lasting value to a work of art or bestow a delicate beauty upon it. It is the time laid out in laborious creation which repays us later through the enduring strength it confers. It is this, above all, which makes Pericles’ works an object of wonder to us-the fact that they were created in so short a span, and yet for aU time. Each one possessed a beauty which seemed venerable the moment it was born, and at the same time a youthful vigour which makes them appear to this day as if they were newly built. A bloom of eternal
freshness hovers over these works of his and preserves them from the touch of time, as if some unfading spirit of youth, some ageless vitality had been breathed into them.
The director and supervisor of the whole enterprise was Pheidias, although there were various great architects and artists employed on the individual buildings. For example, Callicrates and Ictinus were the architect of the Parthenon with its cella 100 feet long; it was Coroebus who started to build the temple of initiation at Eleusis, but he only lived to see the columns erected on the lower story and the architraves placed on the capitals. After his death. Metagenes of Xypete added the frieze and the upper colonnade, and Xenocles of the deme of Cholargus crowned it with the lantern over the shrine. Callicrates was the contractor for the third Long Wall.17 which ran between the original two, and for which Socrates says18 that he himself heard Pericles propose the decree to the people. Cratinus makes fun of the slow progress of the work, saying
Pericles had built this wall long ago, if words could do it; In fact, not one inch has been added to it.
The Odeon, with its interior arranged to accommodate many rows of seats and supporting columns, and its circular roof sloping down from its apex, was said to be an exact reproduction of the king of Persia’s pavilion, and this was also built under Pericles’ direction. For this reason Cratinus has another joke at his expense in The Thracian Woman:
As Zeus an onion on his head he wears. As Pericles a whole orchestra bears; Afraid of broils and banishment no more, He tunes the shell he trembled at before.
At the same time, still in pursuit of distinction, Pericles had a decree passed to established a musical contest as part of the Panathenaic festival. He himself was elected one of the stewards and laid down rules as to how the competitors should sing or play the flute or the lyre. At that time and from thenceforward the audience came to the Odeon to hear these musical contests.
The Propylaea, or portals of the Acropolis, of which Mnesicles was the architect, were finished in the space of five years. While they were being built, a miraculous incident took place, which suggested that the goddess Athena herself, so far from standing aloof, was taking a hand and helping to complete the work. One of the workmen, the most active and energetic among them, slipped and fell from a great height. He lay for some time severely injured, and the doctors could hold out no hope that he would recover. Pericles was greatly distressed at this, but the goddess appeared to him in a dream and ordered a course of treatment, which he applied, with the result that the man was easily and quickly healed. It was to commemorate this that Pericles set up the bronze statue of Athena the Healer near the altar dedicated to that goddess, which they say was there before.
But it was Pheidias who directed the making of the great golden Statue of Athena, and his name is duly inscribed upon the marble tablet on the Acropolis as its creator. Almost the whole enterprise was in his hands, and because of his friendship with Pericles all the artists and craftsmen, as I have said, came under his orders. The result was that he himself became the victim of envy and his patron of slander, for the rumour was put about that Pheidias arranged intrigues for Pericles with free- born Athenian women, when they came on the pretext of looking at the works of art. The comic poets took up this story and showered Pericles with all the innuendoes they could invent, coupling his name with the wife of Menippus, a man who was his friend and had served as his second in command in the army. Even Pyrilampus’s fondness for keeping birds was dragged in, and because he was a friend of Pericles, he was accused of using his peacocks as presents for the women who granted Pericles their favours. The fact is that men who know nothing of decency in their own lives are only too ready to launch foul slanders against their betters and to offer them up as victims to the evil deity of popular envy. And, indeed, we can hardly be surprised at this, when we find that even Stesimbrotus of Thasos has dared to give currency to the shocking and completely unfounded charge that Pericles seduced his son’s wife. This only goes to show how thickly the truth is hedged around with obstacles and how hard it is to track
down by historical research. Writers who live after the events they describe find that their view of them is obscured by the lapse of time, while those who investigate the deeds and lives of their contemporaries are equally apt to corrupt and distort the truth, in some cases because of envy or private hatred, in others through the desire to flatter or show favour.
14. Thucydides and the other members of his party were constantly denouncing Pericles for squandering public money and letting the national revenue run to waste, and so Pericles appealed to the people in the Assembly to declare whether in their opinion he had spent too much. “Far too much,” was their reply, whereupon Pericles retorted, “Very well then, do not let it be charged to the public account but to my own, and I will dedicate all the public buildings in my name.” It may have been that the people admired such a gesture in the grand manner, or else that they were just as ambitious as Pericles to have a share in the glory of his works. At any rate they raised an uproar and told him to draw freely on the public funds and spare no expense in his outlay. Finally, Pericles ventured to put matters to the test of an ostracism/and the result was that he secured his rival’s banishment19 and the dissolution of the party which had been organized against him.
15. From this point political opposition was at an end, the parties had merged themselves into one, and the city presented a single and unbroken front. Pericles now proceeded to bring under his own control not only home affairs, but all issues in which the authority of Athens was involved: these included matters of tribute, the army, the navy, the islands, maritime affairs, the great resources which Athens derived both from the Greek states and from the barbarians, and the leadership she exercised which was buttressed by subject states, friendships with kings and alliances with dynasties. But at the same time Pericles’ own conduct took on quite a different character. He was no longer so docile towards the people, nor so ready to give way to their caprices, which were as shifting and changeable as the winds. He abandoned the somewhat nerveless and indulgent leadership he had shown on occasion, which might be compared to a soft and flowery melody, and struck instead the firm, high note of an aristocratic, even regal statesmanship. And since he used his authority honestly and unswervingly in the interests of the city, he was usually able to carry the people with him by rational argument and persuasion. Still there were times when they bitterly resented his policy, and then he tightened the reins and forced them to do what was to their advantage, much as a wise physician treats a prolonged and complicated disease, allowing the patient at some moments pleasures which can do him no harm, and at others giving him caustics and bitter drugs which cure him. There were, as might be expected, all kinds of disorders to be found among a mass of citizens who possessed an empire as great as that of Athens, and Pericles was the only man capable of keeping each of these under control. He achieved this most often by using the people’s hopes and fears as if they were rudders, curbing them when they were arrogant and raising their hopes or comforting them when they were disheartened. In this way he proved that rhetoric in Plato’s phrase,20 is the art of working upon the souls of men by means of words, and that its chief business is the knowledge of men’s characters and passions which are, so to speak, the strings and stops of the soul and require a most skillful and delicate touch. The secret of Pericles’ power depended, so Thucydides tells us,21 not merely upon his oratory, but upon the reputation which his whole course of life had earned him and upon the confidence he enjoyed as a man who had proved himself completely indifferent to bribes. Great as Athens had been when he became her leader, he made her the greatest and richest of all cities, and he came to hold more power in his hands than many a king and tyrant. And in the end he did not increase the fortune his father left him by so much as a single drachma from the public funds, a source of wealth which some men even managed to pass on to their children.
16. But despite his unselfishness, there can be no doubt as to his power, which Thucydides describes to us clearly, while even the comic poets testify to it unwittingly in some of their malicious jokes. For example, they nickname him and his associates “the new Pisistratids/ and call upon him to take the oath that he wiH never set himself up as tyrant, as if his supremacy were too oppressive and out of all proportion in a democracy. Telecleides says that the Athenians had handed over to him
The cities’ tribute, even the cities themselves To hold or to set free as he thinks fit, And the cities’ walls to build or to pull down,
Their treaties and their armies, their power, their peace, Their wealth, and all the gifts good fortune brings.
17. When the Spartans began to be vexed by the growing power of Athens, Pericles, by way of encouraging the people to cherish even higher ambitions and making them believe themselves capable or great achievements, introduced a proposal that all Greeks, whether living in Europe or in Asia, in small or in large cities alike, should be invited to send delegates to a congress22 at Athens. The subjects to be discussed were the Greek sanctuaries which had been burned down by the Persians; the sacrifices owed to the gods on behalf of Hellas to fulfil the vows made when they were fighting the Persians; and the security of the seas, so that all ships could sail them without fear and keep the peace. Twenty men were chosen from the citizens above fifty years of age to convey this invitation. Five of these invited the Ionian and Dorian Greeks in Asia and the islands, as far as Lesbos and Rhodes, five visited the regions on the Hellespont and those of Thrace as far as Byzantium; five others proceeded to Boeotia, Phocis, and the Peloponnese, passing from there by way of the Ozolian Locrians to the neighbouring mainland, as far as Acarnania and Ambracia, while the rest travelled through Euboea to the Oetaeans and the Maliac gulf, and to the Achaeans of Phthia and the Thessalians, urging them all to attend and join in the deliberations for the peace and well-being of Greece. However, nothing was achieved, and the delegates never assembled because of the covert opposition of the Spartans; at least this is the reason generally given, since the Athenian overtures were first rejected in the Peloponnese. I have mentioned this episode, however, as in illustration of Pericles’ lofty spirit and of the grandeur of his conceptions.
31. The real reasons which caused the decree to be passed are extremely hard to discover, but all writers agree in blaming Pericles for the fact that it was not revoked. Some of them, however, say that his firm stand on this point was based on the highest motives combined with a shrewd appreciation of where Athens’ best interests lay, since he believed that the demand had been made to test his resistance, and that to have complied with it would have been regarded simply as an admission of weakness. But there are others who consider that he defied the Spartans out of an aggressive arrogance and a desire to demonstrate his own strength.
However, the most damning charge of all,23 and yet the one which finds most support, runs somewhat like this. Pheidias the sculptor had been entrusted, as I have mentioned, with the contract for producing the great statue of Athena. His friendship with Pericles, with whom he had great influence, carried him a number of enemies through sheer jealousy, which others made use of him to test the mood of the people and see what their temper would be in a case in which Pericles was involved. They therefore persuaded Menon, one of the artists working under Pheidias, to seat himself in the market- place as a suppliant and ask for the protection of the state in return for laying information against Pheidias. The people granted the man’s plea and a motion for Pheidias’s prosecution was laid before the Assembly The charge of embezzlement was not proved, because from the very beginning, on Pericles’ own advice, the gold used for the statue had been superimposed and laid around it in such a way that it could all be taken off and weighed, and this was what Pericles now ordered the prosecutors to do.
However, the fame of Pheidias’s works still served to arouse jealousy against him, especially because in the chief of the battle of the Amazons, when is represented on the shield of the goddess, he carved a figure representing himself as a bald old man lifting up a stone with both hands, and also because he introduced a particularly fine likeness of Pericles fighting an Amazon. The position of the hand, which holds a spear in front of Pericles’ face, seems to have been ingeniously contrived to conceal the resemblance, but it can still be seen quite plainly from either side.
So Pheidias was cast into prison and there he fell sick and died. According to some accounts he was poisoned by his enemies in an attempt to blacken Pericles’ name still further. As for the informer, Menon, a proposal was passed, on Glycon’s motion, to make him exempt from all taxes and public burdens and the generals were ordered to provide for his safety.
33. The Spartans, for their part, recognized that if Pericles could be removed from power, they would find the Athenians much easier to deal with, and so they demanded that Athens should rid herself of the blood-guilt of Cylon,24 in which Pericles’ family on his mother’s side had been involved, as Thucydides explains. But this manoeuvre produced exactly the opposite effect to what was intended; instead of being slandered and treated with suspicion, Pericles now found himself more trusted and honoured by the Athenians than ever before, because they saw that the enemy feared and hated him more than any other single man. For this reason, before king Archidamus led the Peloponnesians into Attica, Pericles announced in public to the Athenians that if the king should ravage other estates but spare his own, either on account of the personal friendship between them or use to give his enemies cause to slander him, he would present all his lands and the buildings on them to the state.
The Spartans and their allies then proceeded to invade Attica with an immense army commanded by Archidamus. They advanced, devastating the land as they went, as far as Archarnae, which is very close to Athens, and there they pitched camp, for they imagined that the Athenians would never tolerate this, but would march out and fight them from sheer pride and anger. Pericles, however, judged that it would be a terrible risk to engage 60,000 Peloponnesian and Boeotian hoplites (for the first invading army was at least as strong as this), and stake Athens’ very existence on the issue, so he tried to pacify those who were longing to fight and were becoming restive at the damage the enemy were doing. He pointed out that trees, even if they are lopped or cut down, can quickly grow again, but that you cannot easily replace the men who fall in battle. He would not summon the Assembly for fear that he might be forced to act against his better judgement. Instead, he behaved like the helmsman of a ship who, when a storm sweeps down upon it in the open sea, makes everything fast, takes in sail and relies on his own skill and takes no notice of the tears and entreaties of the sea-sick and terrified passengers. In the same way Pericles closed the gates of Athens/posted guards at all the necessary points for security and trusted to his own judgement, shutting his ears to the complaints and outcries of the discontented. At the same time many of his friends continually pressed him to take the offensive, while his enemies threatened and denounced his policy, and the comic poets in their choruses taunted him with mocking songs and abused his leadership for its cowardice and for abandoning everything to the enemy. Cleon, too, was already attacking him, and exploiting the general resentment against Pericles to advance his own prospects as a popular leader, as we see from this poem in anapaests by Hermippus:
Come now, king of the satyrs, stop waging the war With your speeches, and try a real weapon! Though I do not believe, under all your fine talk You have even the guts of a Teles.
For if somebody gets out a whetstone and tries Just to sharpen so much as a pen-knife, You start grinding your teeth and fly into a rage As if Cleon had come up and stung you.
34. Pericles, however, remained immovable and calmly endured all the ignominy and the hatred which were heaped upon him without making any reply…. In fact, they would never have carried on the war so long, but would soon have called off hostilities had not an act of heaven intervened to upset human calculations.
For now the plague fell upon the Athenians25 and devoured the flower of their manhood was their strength. It afflicted them not only in body but also in spirit, so that they raved against Pericles and tried to ruin him, just as a man in a fit of delirium will attack his physician or his father. They were urged on by his personal enemies, who convinced them that the plague was caused by the herding together of the country folk into the city. Here, in the summer months, many of them lived huddled in shacks and stifling tents and were forced to lead an inactive indoor life, instead of being in the pure open air of the country, as they were accustomed. The man responsible for all this, they said, was Pericles: because of the war he had compelled the country people to crowd inside the walls, and he had then given them no employment, but had them penned up like cattle to infect each other, without providing them with any relief or change of quarters.
37. The people tried other generals and politicians in turn to carry on the war, but they found that none of these possessed a stature or an authority that was equal to the task of leadership. So the city came to long for Pericles and summoned him back to the Assembly and the War Department.26 Because of his grief he was lying at home in dejected spirits, but he was persuaded by Alcibiades and his other friends to appear again in public. After the people had Made amends for their ungrateful treatment of him and he had once more taken over the direction of affairs and been elected general, he pleaded that the law concerning children born out of wedlock, which he himself had originally introduced, might be suspended for once in his favour. He asked this so that the name and lineage of his house should not die out for want of an heir.
The circumstances of this law were as follows. Many years before,27 when Pericles was at the height of his power, and, as I have mentioned, had legitimate children born to him, he proposed a law that only those who could claim Athenian parentage on both sides should be counted as Athenian citizens. So when the king of Egypt presented Athens with 40,000 measures of grain and this gift had to be distributed among the citizens, a long succession of lawsuits began to be brought against those whose birth was illegitimate according to Pericles’ law, but who until that moment had escaped notice and never been questioned, and many of them suffered at the hands of informers. As a result nearly five thousand people were convicted and sold into slavery, while those who retained their citizenship and were acknowledged to be true Athenians were found after this scrutiny to number 14,040. It was therefore a very serious matter that this law, which had been enforced so harshly against so many people, should now be suspended in favour of the very man who had introduced it. However, the Athe- nians felt that the misfortunes which had overtaken Pericles in his family life represented a kind of penalty which he had paid for his pride and presumption in the past, and their hearts were touched. It seemed to them that retribution had fallen upon him, and that his plea was one which it was only human for him to make and for them to grant, and so they allowed him to enroll his illegitimate son in the family phratry lists and to give him his own name. This was the son who, many years later, defeated the Peloponnesians in the naval battle at the Arginusae Islands,28 and was put to death by popular decree along with his fellow generals.
38. Soon after this it appears that Pericles himself caught the plague. In his case it was not a violent or acute attack such as others had suffered, but a kind of dull, lingering fever, which persisted through a number of different symptoms and gradually wasted his bodily, strength and undermined his noble spirit. At any rate Theophrastus in his Ethics discusses the problem of whether men’s characters change according to their circumstances and whether they may be so deranged by physical suffering as to lose their former virtues. As an example he quotes a story that Pericles, as he lay sick, showed one of the friends who had come to visit him a charm which the women had hung round his neck, so much as to say that he was very far gone to allow such a piece of folly.
As he was now on his death-bed,29 some of the leading men of Athens and the survivors among his friends were sitting around him, praising his virtues and the extent of his power and recounting his famous exploits and the number of trophies he had set up, for he had won no less than nine victories as Athens’ commander-in-chief. They were talking to each other in this way in his presence, supposing that he had lost consciousness and could no longer understand them. But Pericles had been following everything they said and he suddenly spoke out aloud. He was astonished, he told them, that they should praise and remember him for exploits which owed at least as much to good fortune as to his own efforts, and which many other generals had performed quite as well as himself, while they said nothing of his greatest and most glorious title to fame. “I mean by title,” he went on, “that no Athenian ever put on mourning because of me.”
39. Pericles deserves our admiration, then, not only for the sense of justice and the serene temper that he preserved amid the many crises and intense personal hatreds which surrounded him, but also for his greatness of spirit. He considered it the highest of all his claims to honour that, despite the immense power he wielded, he had never given way to feelings of envy or hatred and had treated no man as so irreconcilable an enemy that he could never become his friend. This fact by itself, it seems to
him, removes any objection to this otherwise pretentious and childish nickname, and, indeed, gives it a certain aptness: a character so gracious and a life so pure and incorrupt in the exercise of sovereign power might well be called Olympian, according to our conception of the race of gods who rule over the universe is the authors of all good things and as beings who are by nature incapable of evil. In this we part company from the poets, who confuse us with their ignorant fantasies and contradict themselves with their own fables. They tell us that the abode of the gods is a calm, untroubled place, which knows neither wind nor cloud, but shines for all time with a soft radiance and a clear light, and this, they suggest, is the mode of being that befits a blessed and immortal nature; but at the same time they represent the gods themselves being filled with discontent, malice, anger, and other passions, which would disgrace even mortal men who possessed any sense. But these reflections belong to another place.
After his death, the course of events soon brought home Pericles’ worth to the Athenians and made them sharply conscious of his loss. Those who in his lifetime had resented his power and felt that it overshadowed them turned to other orators and popular leaders as soon as he was out of the way, only to find themselves compelled to admit that no man for all his majesty was ever more moderate, or, when clemency was called for, better able to maintain his dignity. Henceforth the public life of Athens was to be polluted by a rank growth of corruption and wrongdoing, which Pericles had always checked and kept out of sight, thereby preventing it from taking an irresistible hold. Then it was that power of his, which had aroused such envy and had been denounced as a monarchy and a tyranny stood revealed in its true character as the saving bulwark of the state.
1. Both works were gigantic statues in ivory and gold. 2. 479 B.C. traditionally on the same day as the battle of Plataea. 3. Cratinus and the other comic poets mentioned here tended to be conservative in their sympathies. Cimon was their ideal, and foreign cults and influences, the sophists, and the higher philosophy were their favourite butts. Pericles, like Zeus, is the offspring of (party) strife: “head-compeller” parodies the Homeric epithet of Zeus, “cloud- compeller,” and “protector of foreigners” may refer to Pericles’ law affecting children of mixed parentage, which he had altered in his own favour. 4. A play which showed the great leaders of the past, Miltiades, Themistocles, Aristides, and Pericles, brought back to life to witness how degenerate their democratic successors had become. 5. The word is used here in the wider Greek sense which includes poetry and other subjects. 6. Actually Plato, Alcibiades, 1,118c. 7. The allusion to Chiron the Centaur, tutor of Achilles 8. Zeno of Elea, a pupil of Parmenides, was the inventor of dialectic and author of various famous paradoxes, such as that of Achilles and the tortoise. 9. Phaedrus, 270a. 10. The leader of the aristocratic party (to be distinguished from the historian) had taken refuge in Sparta after his ostracism in 442 B.C. (Ch. 14). Archidamus II, king of Sparta (469-427 B.C.), commanded the first two Peloponnesian invasions of Attica after the outbreak of war. 11. The historian, in his encomium on Pericles, ii. 65. 12. This system of granting the land of subject peoples to Athenian citizens, who still remained citizens of Athens and paid no tribute, differed from the practice of other Greek itates and was particularly resented by the allies. 13. The two obol grant which admitted Athenian citizens to the theatre. 14 The payment of jurymen, at first at two obols a day, was introduced by Pericles, and the fee was increased to three obols by Cleon about 425 B.C. 15. The peninsula, which was made familiar to our century by the Gallipoli campaign, was captured by Cimon in 475 and colonized in 448-447 B.C. Naxos revolted from Athens and lost its independence in 467; it was occupied by Athenian settlers in 448. Andros was probably settled by the Athenians a few years earlier. Thurii was founded in 443 B.C. on territory of Sybaris: this city had been defeated by Croton in 510 B.C. and the site completely razed. The new colony was built by emigrants from many Greek cities and the Athenians did not attempt to dominate it. 16. The Athenian case was that their protection kept off the Persians and kept down the pirates. What the allies resented was not only the high cost of these services in tribute, but, also the political control exercised from Athens. It was only the larger islands, Chios, Mitylene, and Samos, which possessed their own oligarchies. The allies were also subject to Athenian courts.
17. The two original Long Walls had been built a considerable distance apart. If an enemy attack broke through either, communications with Pericles would have been interrupted, so Pericles built a third, which ran parallel to the western wall and some two hundred yards inside it.
18. Plato, Gorgias, 455e.
19. 444 B.C. 20. Phaedrus, 271 C. 21. ii, 65. 22. This may have been summoned in 448-447 B.C. just after Cimon’s death. If so it was an ingenious diplomatic stroke in the “cold war” of the period; for Sparta to have attended such a congress convoked by the Athenians in Athens would have amounted to a tacit acceptance of Athenian hegemony throughout Greece. 23. Plutarch offers no opinion, but the facts do not support this charge. Other accounts suggest that Pheidias may have been prosecuted soon after the statue was dedicated in 438-437 and that he may have been exiled soon afterwards and died in Elis about 432. Anaxagoras is now believed to have retired to Lampsacus nearly twenty years earlier, and Dracontides’ motion was not passed until 430 and therefore had no connection with the outbreak of the war. Thucydides gives no hint that Pericles’ ascendancy was being challenged in the period immediately preceding the war, but rather that the crisis strenghthened it. 24. Pericles belonged to the house of Alcmaeon. 25. 430 B.C. 26. 429 B.C. 27. 451-450 B.C. 28. 406 B.C. 29. He died in the autumn of 429 B.C.
Plutarch’s “Life of Pericles” is reprinted from The Rise and Fall of Athens by Thomas North, trans. J. M. Dent and Sons, Ltd., 1898.
Art Humanities Primary Source Reading 3
EXCERPTS FROM The Natural History, Volume IX, 77 A.D.
After thus defining the periods of the most famous artists, I will hastily run through these of outstanding distinction, throwing in the rest of the throng here and there under various heads. The most celebrated have also come into competition with each other, although born at different periods, because they have made statues of Amazons; when these were dedicated in the Temple of Artemis of Ephesus, it was agreed that the best one should be selected by the vote of the artist themselves who were present; and it then became evident that the best after their own: this is the Amazon by Polycleitus, while next to it came that of Pheidias, third Cresilas’s, fourth Cydon’s1 and fifth Phradmon’s.
Pheidias, beside the Olympian Zeus, which nobody has ever rivalled, executed in ivory and gold the statue of Athene that stands erect in the Parthenon at Athens, and in bronze, besides the Amazon mentioned above, an Athene of such exquisite beauty that it has been surnamed the Fair. He also made the lady with the keys, and another Athene which Aemilius Paulus dedicated in Rome at the temple of Today’s Fortune, and likewise a work consisting of two statues wearing cloaks which Catulus erected in the same temple, and another work, a colossal statue undraped; and Pheidias is deservedly deemed to have first revealed the capabilities and indicated the methods of statuary.
Polycleitus of Sicyon, pupil of Hagelades, made a statue of the ‘Diadu-menos’ or Binding His Hair—a youth but soft-looking—famous for having cost 100 talents, and also the ‘Doryphoros’ or Carrying a Spear—a boy, but manly-looking. He also made what artists call a ‘Canon7 or Model Statue, as they draw their artistic outlines from it as from a sort of standard; and he alone of mankind is deemed by means of one work of art to have created the art itself. He also made the statue of the Man using a Body-scraper (‘Apoxyo-menos’) and, in the nude, the Man Attacking with Spear, and the Two Boys Playing Dice, likewise in the nude, known by the Greek name of Astragali-zontes and now standing in the fore-court of the emperor Titus—this is generally considered to be the most perfect work of art in existence—and likewise the Hermes that was once at Lysimachea; Heracles; the Leader Donning his Armour, which is at Rome; and Artemon, called the Man in the Litter. Polycleitus is deemed to have perfected this science of statuary and to have revealed it. A discovery that was entirely his own is the art of making statues throwing their weight on one leg, although Varro says these figures are of a square build and almost all made on one model.
BOOK XXXV .XXXIV
I will now run through as briefly as possible the artists eminent in painting; and it is not consistent with the plan of this work to go into such detail; and accordingly it will be enough just to give the names of some of them even in passing and in course of mentioning others, with the exception of the famous works of art which whether still extant or now lost it will be proper to particularize.
In this department the exactitude of the Greeks is inconsistent, in placing the painters many Olympiads after the sculptors in bronze and chasers in metal, and putting the first in the 90th Olympiad, although it is said that even Phidias himself was a painter to begin with, and that there was a shield2 at Athens that had been painted by him; and although moreover it is universally admitted that his brother Panaenus came in the 83rd Olympiad, who painted the inner surface of a shield of Athene at Elis made by Colotes, Phidias’s pupil and assistant in making the statue of Olympian Zeus. And then, is it not equally admitted that Candaules, the last King of Lydia of the Heraclid line, who was also commonly known by the name of Myrsilus, gave its weight in gold for a picture of the painter Bularchus representing a battle3 with the Magnetes? So high was the value already set on the art of painting. This must have occurred at about the time of Romulus, since Candaules4 died in the 18th Olympiad, or, according to some accounts, in the same year as Romulus, making it clear, if I am not mistaken, that the art had already achieved celebrity, and in fact a perfection. And if we are bound to accept this conclusion, it becomes
clear at the same time that the first stages were at a much earlier date and that the painters in monochrome, whose date is not handed down to us, came considerably earlier—Hygiaenon, Dinias, Char-madas and Eumarus of Athens, the last being the earliest artist to distinguish5 the male from the female sex in painting, and venturing to reproduce every sort of figure; and Cimon of Cleonae who improved on the inventions of Eumarus. It was Cimon who first invented ‘catagrapha/ that is, images in ‘three-quarter/6 and who varied the aspect of the features, representing them as looking backward or upward or downward; he showed the attachments of the limbs, displayed the veins, and moreover introduced wrinkles and folds in the drapery. Indeed the brother of Phidias, Panaenus, even painted the Battle at Marathon between the Athenians and Persians; so widely established had the employment of colour now become and such perfection of art had been attained that he is said to have introduced actual portraits of the generals who commanded in that battle, Miltiades, Callimachus and Cynaegirus on the Athenian side and Datis and Artaphernes on that of the barbarians.
BOOK XXXV.XXXV Nay more, during the time that Panaenus flourished competitions in painting were actually instituted at Corinth and at Delphi, and on the first occasion of all Panaenus competed against Timagoras of Chalcis, being defeated by him, at the Pythian Games, a fact clearly shown by an ancient poem of Timagoras himself, the chronicles undoubtedly being in error. After those and before the 90th Olympiad there were other celebrated painters also, such as Polygnotus of Thasos who first represented women in transparent draperies and showed their heads covered with a parti- coloured headdress; and he first contributed many improvements to the art of painting, as he introduced showing the mouth wide open and displaying the teeth and giving expression to the countenance in place of the primitive rigidity. There is a picture by this artist in the Portico of Pompeius which formerly hung in front of the Curia which he built, in which it is doubtful whether the figure of a man with a shield is painted as going up or as coming down. Polygnotus painted the temple at Delphi and the colonnade at Athens called the Painted Portico, doing his work gratuitously, although a part of the work was painted by Micon who received a fee.7 Indeed Polygnotus was held in higher esteem, as the Amphictyones, who are a General Council of Greece, voted him entertainment at the public expense. There was also another Micon, distinguished from the first by the surname of ‘the Younger,’ whose daughter Timarete also painted.
BOOK XXXV.XXXVI In the 90th Olympiad lived Aglaophon, Cephisodorus, Erillus, and Evenor the father and teacher of Parrhasius, a very great painter (about Parrhasius we shall have to speak when we come to his period). All these are now artists of note, yet, not figures over which our discourse should linger in its haste to arrive at the luminaries of the art; first among whom shone out Apollodorus of Athens, in the 93rd Olympiad. Apollodorus was the first artist to give realistic presentation of objects, and the first to confer glory as of right upon the paint brush. His are the Priest at Prayer and Ajax struck by Lightning, the latter to be seen at Pergamum at the present day. There is no painting now on view by any artist before Apollodorus that arrests the attention of the eyes. The gates of art having been now thrown open by Apollodorus they were entered by Zeuxis of Heraclea in the 4th year of the 95th Olympiad, who led forward die already not unadventurous paintbrush-for this is what we are still speaking of—to great glory. Some writers erroneously place Zeuxis in the 89th Olympiad, when Demophilus of Himera and Neseus of Thasos must have been his contemporaries, as of one of them, it is uncertain which, he was a pupil. Of Zeuxis, Apollodorus above recorded wrote an epigram in a line of poetry to the effect that ‘Zeuxis robbed his masters of their art and carried it off with him/ Also he acquired such great wealth that he advertised it at Olympia by displaying his own name embroidered in gold lettering on the checked pattern of his robes. Afterwards he set about giving away his works as presents, saying that it was impossible for them to be sold at any price adequate to their value: for instance he presented his Alcmena to the city of Girgenti and his Pan to Archclaus.9 He also did a Penelope in which the picture seems to portray morality, and an Athlete, in the latter case being so pleased with his own work that he wrote below it a line of verse which has hence become famous, to the effect that it would be easier for someone to carp at him than to copy him. His Zeus seated on a throne with the gods standing by in attendance is also a magnificent work, and so is the Infant Heracles throttling two Snakes in the presence of his mother Alcmena, looking on in alarm, and of Amphitryon. Nevertheless Zeuxis is criticized for making the heads and joints10 of his figures too large in proportion, albeit he was so scrupulously careful that when he was going to produce a picture11 for the city of Girgenti to dedicate at the public cost in the temple of Laeinian Hera he held an inspection of maidens of the place paraded naked and chose five, for the purpose of reproducing in the picture the most admirable points in the form of each. He also painted monochromes in white.12 His contemporaries and rivals were Timanthes, Androeydes, Eupompus and
Parrhasius. This last, it is recorded, entered into a competition with Zeuxis, who produced a picture of grapes so successfully represented that birds flew up to the stage-buildings;13 whereupon Parrhasius himself produced such a realistic picture of a curtain that Zeuxis, proud of the verdict of the birds, requested that the curtain should now be drawn and the picture displayed; and when he realized his mistake, with a modesty that did him honour he yielded up the prize, saying that whereas he had deceived birds Parrhasius had deceived him, an artist. It is said that Zeuxis also subsequently painted a Child Carrying Grapes, and when birds flew to the fruit with the same frankness as before he strode up to the picture in anger with it and said, ‘I have painted the grapes better than the child, as if I had made a success of that as well, the birds would inevitably have been afraid of it/ He also executed works in clay, the only works of art that were left at Ambracia when Fulvius Nobilior removed the statues of the Muses from that place to Rome. There is at Rome a Helena14 by Zeuxis in the Porticoes of Phil- ippus, and a Marsyas Bound, in the Shrine of Concord.
Parrhasius also, a native of Ephesus, contributed much to painting. He was the first to give proportions to painting and the first to give vivacity to the expression of the countenance, elegance of the hair and beauty of the mouth; indeed it is admitted by artists that he won the palm in the drawing of outlines. This in painting is the high- water mark of refinement; to paint bulk and the surface within the outlines, though no doubt a great achievement, is one in which many have won distinction, but to give the contour of the figures, and make a satisfactory boundary where the painting within finishes, is rarely attained in successful artistry. For the contour ought to round itself off and so terminate as to suggest the presence of other parts behind it also, and disclose even what it hides. This is the distinction conceded to Parrhasius by Antigonus and Xenocrates who have written on the art of painting, and they do not merely admit it but actually advertise it. And there are many other pen-sketches15 still extant among his panels and parchments, from which it is said that artists derive profit Nevertheless he seems to fall below his own level in giving expression to the surface of the body inside the outline. His picture of the People of Athensalso shows ingenuity in treating the subject, since he displayed them as fickle,16 choleric, unjust and variable, but also placable and merciful and compassionate, boastful
To return to Timanthes—he had a very high degree of genius. Orators20 have sung the praises of his Iphigenia,21 who stands at the altar awaiting her doom; the artist has shown all present full of sorrow, and especially her uncle,22 and has exhausted all the indications of grief, yet has veiled the countenance of her father himself,23 whom he was unable adequately to portray. There are also other examples of his genius, for instance a quite small panel of a Sleeping Cyclops, whose gigantic stature he aimed at representing even on that scale by painting at his side some Satyrs measuring the size of his thumb with a wand. Indeed Timanthes is the only artist in whose works more is always implied than is depicted, and whose execution, though consummate, is always surpassed by his genius. He painted a hero which is a work of supreme perfection, in which he has included the whole art of painting male figures; this work is now in the Temple of Peace in Rome. It was at this period that Euxinidas had as his pupil the famous artist Aristides,24 that Eupompus taught Pamphilus who was the instructor
of Apelles. A work of Eupompus is a Winner in a Gymnastic Contest holding a Palm branch. Eupompus’s own influence was so powerful that he made a fresh division of painting- it had previously been divided into two schools, called the Helladic or Grecian and the Asiatic, but because of Eupompus, who was a Sicyoruan, the Grecian school was sub-divided into three groups, the Ionic, Sicyoman and Atoc. To Pamphilus belong Family Group, and a Battle at Phlius and a Victory of the Athenians,25 and also Odysseus on his Raft He was himself a Macedonian by birth, but
In the 107th Olympiad Aetion and Therimachus also attained outstanding distinction. Famous paintings by Action are a Father Liber or Dionysus, Tragedy and Comedy and Semiramis28 the Slave Girl Rising to a Throne; andthe Old Woman carrying Torches, with a Newly Married Bride, remarkable for her air of modesty. But it was Apelles of Cos29 who surpassed all the painters that preceded and all who were to come after him; he dates in the 112th Olympiad. He singly contributed almost more to painting than all the other artists put together, also publishing volumes containing the principles of painting. His art was unrivalled for graceful charm, although other very great painters were his contemporaries. Although he admired their works and gave high praise to all of them, he used to say that they lacked the glamour that his work possessed, the quality denoted by the Greek word charts, and that although they had every other merit, in that alone no one was his rival. He also asserted another claim to distinction when he expressed his admiration for the immensely laborious and infinitely meticulous work of Protogenes; for he said that in all respects his achievements and those of Protogenes were on a level, or those of Protogenes were superior, but that in one respect he stood higher, that he knew when to take his hand away from a picture30—a noteworthy warning of the frequently evil effects of excessive diligence. The candour of Apelles was however equal to his artistic skill: he used to acknowledge his inferiority to Melanthius in grouping, and to Asclepiodorus in nicety of measurement, that is in the proper space to be left between one object and another. A clever incident took place between Protogenes and Apelles. Protogenes lived at Rhodes, and Apelles made the voyage there from a desire to make himself acquainted with Protogenes’s works, as that artist was hitherto only known to him by reputation. He went at once to his studio. The artist was not there but there was a panel of considerable size on the easel prepared for painting, which was in the charge of a single old woman. In answer to his enquiry, she told him that Protogenes was not at home, and asked who it was she should report as having wished to see him. ‘Say it was this person,’ said Apelles, and taking up a brush he painted in colour across the panel an extremely fine line31; and when Protogenes returned the old woman showed him what had taken place. The story goes that the artist, after looking closely at the finish of this, said that the new arrival was Apelles, as so perfect a piece of work tallied with nobody else; and he himself, using another colour, drew a still finer line exactly on the top of the first one, and leaving the room told the attendant to show it to the visitor if he returned and add that this was the person he was in search of; and so it happened; for Apelles came back, and, ashamed to be beaten, cut32 the lines with another in a third colour, leaving no room for any further display of minute work. Hereupon Protogenes admitted he was defeated, and flew down to the harbour to look for the visitor; and he decided that the panel should be handed on to posterity as it was, to be admired as a marvel by everybody, but particularly by artists. I am informed that it was burnt in the first fire which occurred in Caesar’s palace on the Palatine; it had been previously much admired by us, on its vast surface containing nothing else than the almost invisible lines, so that among the outstanding works of many artists it looked like a blank space, and by that very fact attracted attention and was more esteemed than any masterpiece. Moreover it was a regular custom with Apelles never to let a day of business to be so fully occupied that he did not practise his art by drawing a line,33 which has passed from him into a proverb.34 Another habit of his was when he had finished his works to place them in a gallery in the view of passers by, and he himself stood out of sight behind the picture and listened to hear what faults were noticed, rating the public as a more observant critic than himself. And it is said that he was found fault with by a shoemaker because in drawing a subject’s sandals he had represented the loops in them as one too few, and the next day the same critic was so proud of the artist’s
correcting the fault indicated by his previous objection that he found fault with the leg, but Apelles indignantly looked out from behind the picture and rebuked him, saying that a shoemaker in his criticism must not go beyond the sandal—a remark that has also passed into a proverb.35 In fact he also possessed great courtesy of manners, which made him more agreeable to Alexander the Great, who frequently visited his studio— for, as we have said/Alexander had published an edict forbidding any other artist to paint his portrait; but in the studio Alexander used to talk a great deal about painting without any real knowledge of it, and Apelles would politely advise him to drop the subject, saying that the boys engaged in grinding the colours were laughing at him: so much power did his authority exercise over a King who was otherwise of an irascible temper. And yet Alexander conferred honour on him in a most conspicuous instance; he had such an admiration for the beauty of his favourite mistress, named Pancaspe, that he gave orders that she should be painted in the nude by Apelles, and then discovering that the artist while executing the commission had fallen in love with the woman, he presented her to him, great- minded as he was and still greater owing to his control of himself, and of a greatness proved by this action as much as by any other victory: because he conquered himself, and presented not only his bedmate but his affection also to the artist, and was not even influenced by regard for the feelings of his favourite in having been recently the mistress of a monarch and now belonged to a painter. Some persons believe that she was the model from which the Aphrodite Anadyomene (Rising from the Sea) was painted. It was Apelles also who, kindly among his rivals, first established the reputation of Protogenes at Rhodes. Protogenes was held in low esteem by his fellow-countrymen, as is usual with home products, and, when Apelles asked him what price he set on some works he had finished, he had mentioned some small sum, but Apelles made him an offer of fifty talents for them, and spread it about that he was buying them with the intention of selling them as works of his own. This device aroused the people of Rhodes to appreciate the artist, and Apelles only parted with the pictures to them at an enhanced price.
He also painted portraits so absolutely lifelike that, incredible as it sounds, the grammarian Apio has left it on record that one of those persons called ‘physiognomists,’ who prophesy people’s future by their countenance, pronounced from their portraits either the year of the subjects’ deaths hereafter or the number of years they had already lived. Apelles had been on bad terms with Ptolemy in Alexander’s retinue. When this Ptolemy36 was King of Egypt, Apelles on a voyage had been driven by a violent storm into Alexandria. His rivals maliciously suborned the King’s jester to convey to him an invitation to dinner, to which he came. Ptolemy was very indignant, and paraded his hospitality stewards for Apelles to say which of them had given him the invitation. Apelles picked up a piece of extinguished charcoal from the hearth and drew a likeness on the wall, tike King recognizing the features of the jester as soon as he began the sketch. He also painted a portrait of King Antigonus 37 who was blind in one eye, and devised an original method of concealing the defect, for he did the likeness in ‘three- quarter,’ so that the feature that was lacking in the subject might be thought instead to be absent in the picture, and he only showed the part of the face which he was able to display as unmutilated. Among his works there are also pictures of persons at the point of death. But it is not easy to say which of his productions are of the highest rank. His Aphrodite emerging from the Sea was dedicated by his late, lamented Majesty Augustus in the Shrine of his father Caesar; it is known as the Anadyomene; this like other works is eclipsed38 yet made famous by the Greek verses which sing its praises; the lower part of the picture having become damaged nobody could be found to restore it, but the actual injury contributed to the glory of the artist. This picture however suffered from age and rot, and Nero when emperor substituted another for it, a work by Dorotheus. Apelles had also begun on another Aphrodite at Cos, which was to surpass even his famous earlier one; but death grudged him the work when only partly finished, nor could anybody be found to carry on the task, in conformity with the outlines of the sketches prepared. He also painted Alexander the Great holding a Thunderbolt, in the temple of Artemis at Ephesus, for a fee of twenty talents in gold. The fingers have the appearance of projecting from the surface and the thunderbolt seems to stand out from the picture—readers must remember that all these effects were produced by four colours; the artist received the price of this picture in gold coin measured by weight,39 not counted. He also painted a Procession of the Magabyzus, the priest of Artemis of Ephesus, a Clitus with Horse hastening into battle; and an armour-bearer handing someone a helmet at his command. How many times he painted Alexander and Philip it would be superfluous to recount. His Habron at Samos is much admired, as is his Menander, King of Caria, at Rhodes, likewise his Antaeus, and at Alexandria his Gorgosthenes the Tragic Actor, and at Rome his Castor and Pollux with Victory and Alexander the Great, and also his figure of War40 with the Hands Tied behind, with Alexander riding in Triumph in his Chariot. Both of these pictures his late lamented Majesty Augustus with restrained good taste 41 had dedicated in the most frequented parts of his forum; the emperor Claudius however thought it more advisable to cut out the face of Alexander from, both works and substitute portraits of Augustus. The Heracles with Face Averted in the temple of Diana is also believed to be by his hand—so drawn that the picture more truly displays Heracles’ face than merely suggests it to the
imagination—a very difficult achievement. He also painted a Nude Hero, a picture with which he challenged Nature herself. There is, or was, a picture of a Horse by him, painted in a competition, by which he carried his appeal for judgement from mankind to the dumb quadrapeds; for perceiving that his rivals were getting the better of him by intrigue, he had some horses brought and showed them their pictures one by one; and the horses only began to neigh when they saw the horse painted by Apelles; and this always happened subsequently, showing it to be a sound test of artistic skill. He also did a Neoptolemus42 on Horseback fighting against the Persians, an Archelaus43 with his Wife and Daughter, and an Antigonus44 with a Breastplate marching with his horse at his side. Connoisseurs put at the head of all his works the portrait of the same king seated on horseback, and his Artemis in the midst of a band of Maidens offering a Sacrifice, a work by which he may be thought to have surpassed Homer’s verses describing the same subject. He even painted things that cannot be represented in pictures—thunder, lightning and thunderbolts, the pictures known respectively under the Greek titles of Bronte, Astrape and Ceraunobolia.
His inventions in the art of painting have been useful to all other painters as well, but there was one which nobody was able to imitate: when his works were finished he used to cover them over with a black varnish of such thinness that its very presence, while its reflexion threw up the brilliance of all the colours and preserved them from dust and dirt, was only visible to anyone who looked at it close up, but also employing great calculation of lights, so that the brilliance of the colours should not offend the sight when people looked at them as if through muscovy-glass and so that the same device from a distance might invisibly give somberness to colours that were too brilliant
1. Here perhaps all statuary as contrasted with painting; or else all metal-work only.
2. Probably not that of Athene Parthenos, which was, on its inner side, carved in relief.
3. An unknown event; it might be the defeat of the Greeks mentioned in VII, 126; or more likely the great defeat of
the Magnetes by the Treres in 651 B.C. (Strabo XIV, 647).
4. Candaules was in fact put to death by Gyges about 685 B.C.
5. By painting women’s skin paler or white. This is the stage represented by vase-painting from tike seventh century when women were commonly coloured white, men red or black.
6. The Greek word meant probably ‘foreshortened images,’ but Pliny or his Latin source rightly took it as expressing ‘slanting (obliquus) images not profile or full-face.’ Cf. 90. The context may exclude from the word obliquus any portraits where the eyes look back, up, or down.
7. Polygnotus’ contribution was a ‘Sack of Troy/ Micon’s a ‘Battle of the Amazons’ (against Theseus).
8. Inventor of shading, and therefore called cnaaypdfa.
9. King of Macedonia 413-399 B.C.
10. Fingers and toes?
11. Apparently a ‘Helen (cf. 66),’ painted in fact for the city of Croton (Cic. De Invent. II, 1,1; Dionys, Hal., De Vet
Script. Cens. I). 12. Apparently paintings in pale colours on a dark ground. 13. The pictures were hung on the front of the stage buildings in the theatre. 14. The picture ‘Helen’ mentioned (not named) in 64. The porticoes were built by L. Marcius Philippus in 29 B.C. 15. Or ‘traces of his draughtmanship.’ 16. Or ‘them in various moods.’ 17. Until it perished in the fire of 70 B.C. 18. Showing the healing of Telephus by rust from Achilles’ sword, with Agamemnon and Odysseus looking on. 19. When the arms of dead Achilles were awarded to Odysseus, Ajax became mad and at night unknowingly killed sheep in the belief that he was killing his enemies. 20. E.g. Cicero, De Oratore 74. 21. A picture found at Pompeii may be a copy of this. 22. Menelaus.
24. The elder; cf. 108, 111 and note on pp. 410-411. 25. Possibly the capture of Phlius by the Spartans in 379 B.C. and the sea-victory of Athens over the Spartans at Naxos in 376, or the defeat of Sicyonians by Phliasians and Athenians in 367 B.C. The painting may have represented the last event only.
26. So that the course of study could last 12 years.
27. The whole of statuary was contrasted with painting.
28. Sammuramat, princess of Assyria c. 800 B.C.
29. Really of Ephesus, but some of his famous works were at Cos.
30. The expression manum de tabula, ‘hand from the picture,’ was a saying which expressed ‘That’s enough.’
31. Pliny does not say whether it was straight or wavy, or an outline of some object.32. Pliny surely indicates that Apelles drew a yet finer line on top of the other two down their length.
33. Probably an outline of some object.
34. Nulla dies sine linea, ‘No day without a line.’
35. Ne sutor ultra crepidam. ‘Let a shoemaker stick to his last.’
36. Ptolemy I, who died in 286 B.C.
37. 382-301 B.C. One of Alexander’s generals, and King of Macedonia 306-301. 38. ‘Overcome’ or ‘surpassed’ by the poet, who can express more than the painter can; for painter can represent one moment only. 39. It is suggested that this means that the price was the equivalent (in gold coins) of the weight of the panel. 40. Cf. 27 and Serv. ad Aen. 1,294. 41. I.e. he did not appropriate them for himself. 42. One of Alexander’s generals. 43. Two soldiers with this name are recorded as serving under Alexander. 44. The One-eyed.
Excerpts from The Natural History by Pliny are Copyright c 1984 Harvard University Press. For permission to photocopy this selection, please contact Harvard University Press.
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