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In every multifarious scene of life the artist must exercise selection. Even an epic poet is not exempt.
The next advance was in the east pediment of the temple of Zeus at Olympia (Pl. II., Fig. 1). There we have still the protagonists in the centre, with an invisible deity between them ; but the two flanks of the pediment are now occupied by obviously secondary persons in the character of attendants and onlookers. In each of the two acute angles a river god reclines, raising himself to watch the scene. Thus in the presence of onlookers in the flanks we have a new element of artistic composition—a great central group of commanding importance, whose action is being watched by persons who represent the locality and are interested in the result.
Next, in order of time, came the Parthenon pediments. There also we find the new principle of composition-a great central group flanked on each side by secondary beings. But there is this momentous difference, that, instead of a single deity appearing in the very centre like a ghost to stay the combat, we have in each pediment of the Parthenon a central group of deities acting and reacting on each other. The deities themselves are now the protagonists; that was a vast change on the older order of ideas. No wonder if, previous to the discovery of the Olympia sculptures, there were students who strove hard to convince themselves that in each pediment of the Parthenon the whole scene was filled by deities alone. In those days it was easy to defend an interpretation of this kind; but even then it found few adherents, and now such views can only be maintained in defiance of the east
pediment of Olympia, with its secondary beings in the flanks. So far as we know, no one cherishes these views any longer.
It would have been more appropriate to begin here with the east pediment of the Parthenon, which was the first act of the drama. But amid the accidents of time it has happened that the west pediment, though now a greater wreck, is in reality better known to us, thanks to the drawings of it made by Carrey in the seventeenth century (Pl. III.), previous to its destruction by the Venetians (1687). Besides Carrey's drawings and the few sculptures still left, most of them fragmentary, we have only the simple words of Pausanias that the subject was the strife between Athenè and Poseidon for divine sovereignty over the land of Attica. From these combined sources we see at once that the centre of the pediment had been occupied by Athenè and Poseidon as the two great protagonists. The goddess had arrived in a chariot (biga), and, as we shall see presently, Poseidon must have come on the scene in the same manner, though his chariot was destroyed before Carrey's time. Each chariot had a driver, with an attendant on foot, and thus
1 It is usual to ascribe the drawings of the Parthenon sculptures now in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris to a French artist, Carrey, who had been employed in Athens by a famous French ambassador, the Marquis de Nointel. But in recent years it has been argued that Carrey's services did not begin till after these drawings had been completed by previous draughtsmen who had accompanied de Nointel. It may be an injustice to these artists if we continue to speak of the drawings
as the work of Carrey. But as the matter is not yet altogether beyond dispute, we shall still use Carrey's name for convenience. See Omont, Dessins des Sculptures du Parthenon, 1898, p. 4, and Babelon, Compte-rendu de l'Académie des Inscr., 1900, p. 262, both of whom rely on the researches of M. le Comte Albert Vandal among the papers of the Marquis de Nointel in his L'Odyssée d'un Ambassadeur : Les Voyages du Marquis de Nointel, 1673-1675 (Paris, 1900).