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the rising sun (Helios), and on the right by the waning moon (Selenè). In the centre was Aphroditè rising from the sea, and being received by her son Eros, while Peitho, the goddess of persuasion, crowns her. In the left group were Zeus, Hera, and Charis, one of the Graces, then Hermes and Hestia. In the group on the right, beginning again from the outer extreme, we see first the great deity Poseidon with his consort Amphitritè, next Athenè with Heracles, and lastly Apollo with Artemis, all strictly in pairs. The scheme of arrangement was thus not unlike what we have on the Parthenon frieze, except that the greatest deities were nearest the outer extremes, whereas on the Parthenon they are nearest the centre. Observe also that in both compositions the Zeus and Hera are accompanied by a secondary person, whom Pausanias names Charis, or Grace, on the base of Olympia, and we call Iris on the Parthenon. In each case she answers, as we have clearly said, to the maid who is so often figured beside Athenian matrons on the sepulchral stelae.
We may not unreasonably assume that the seated posture of the gods on the Parthenon frieze was intended to suggest their invisibility. That does not strike us as so very singular when we see gods placed among legendary heroes and not recognised by them. But when we come to the presence of deities among mortals, we find ourselves confronted by spiritual manifestations with which the Greeks were less familiar and were indeed sceptical of. Yet if they believed, as they did, that at the battle of Marathon their hero Theseus and others appeared in spiritual form, Pheidias might well rely on them to accept the spiritual presence
of the gods at the Panathenaic festival. At all events, that was the task he had to accomplish ; and surely it was a stupendous task to sustain throughout the vast length of the Parthenon frieze a continuous illustration of ordinary life modified by just enough of solemnity to foreshadow the climax when the procession should arrive where the gods were expected to be present, and with all this to attain unity of effect.
Thus far we have tried to explain the general scheme of the frieze. We now propose to discuss its execution.
IN Greek bas-relief the figures sometimes appear as if 1 they could be sliced off from the background and completed as figures in the round, like the liomai, or vertical slices of men, represented on Greek stelae, as Plato says. But were we to try to complete the figures of the Parthenon frieze, making them as thick at the back as the front, they would be merely flattened representations of men and horses. We must, in fact, take it that low relief is in all cases intended to indicate distance, when the background loses its importance and indicates mere space, with which the eye does not concern itself appreciably.But on the Parthenon frieze there was this in addition. The frieze could only be seen by looking up at an acute angle, in which case the background was merely such space as the sculptor required to keep his outlines clear and to give to the eye of the spectator the repose it dearly loves. The sculptor had no exact rules he could follow. He could not give the depth or projection to his figures which would be true
1 Symposium, 19: Karà ypadrv ÉK- ? Hildebrand, Das Problem der Form, TETUT Wuévou SLATE uévou karà tàs third ed., p. 80: Die Reliefvorstellung ρίνας γεγονότες ώσπερ λίσται.
fusst auf dem Eindruck eines Fernbildes.
to nature were the figures seen fairly close at hand. In the diffused light of the colonnade only the lowest possible relief was permissible. He knew that a horseman at a comparatively short distance presents the appearance of a silhouette with sharp contours, and that aspect of things suited him; but equally from his own study and knowledge of men and animals he was familiar with innumerable points of detail in their life and action, as seen close at hand, all which he set himself to incorporate with the sharp contours peculiar to a more or less distant view. He was therefore obliged to improvise a series of receding planes in his relief, which by their exceeding subtlety give an appearance of distance, and yet are best seen close at hand. The lower the modelling and the less the convexity of the inner forms the more effective become the contours, just as the outlines of a mountain impress us more when seen through a slight mist, which partially obscures the multitude of nearer details, than when seen in the broad sun. As an example of the latitude the sculptor allowed himself in the treatment of receding planes, let us take two contiguous slabs of the south frieze, where we see youths leading cows to the sacrifice. In the one (xl.) a youth is pulling back a cow with all his might by an imaginary rope fastened to the horns. Doubtless the rope had originally been painted on the marble. The shoulders of the cow are modelled with infinite care and
Hildebrand, Das Problem der Form, third ed., p. 20: Das ruhig schauende Auge empfängt ein Bild welches das Dreidimensionale nur in merkmalen auf einer Fläche ausdrückt in der das Nebeneinander gleichzeitig erfasst wird. Dagegen ermöglicht die
Bewegungsfähigkeit des Auges, das Dreidimensionale vom nahen Standpunkt aus direkt abzutasten und die Erkenntnis der Form durch ein Zeitliches Nacheinander von Wahrnehmung zu gewinnen.
in considerable relief, so as to show the bones and muscles of the animal in action. Every point is brought out in clear and ample relief. Vigorous action is thus accompanied by vigorous and bold sculpture, as it should be. The other slab (xli.) is wholly different. It is perfectly peaceful. The cow is moving forward in the most quiet and orderly manner. The youth by her side has nothing to do but to keep pace with her. Had the sculptor chosen to model the head and shoulders of this cow in as full relief as the other, nothing would have been said against him. Instead of that he has preferred the very lowest possible relief. In some places the relief is indeed so low and faint that one can barely recognise it, even standing close. The youth by her side in the nearer plane is little more than sketched in, and that somewhat roughly, as is his right arm. In ordinary circumstances this lowering of the planes of the relief would mean greater distance. But this is hardly to be thought of here where the one cow obviously follows in the track of the other. We prefer to think that in each case the degree of the relief has been calculated as the most suitable to the action of each group, and in that case we have here an instructive example of what is fairly common on the Parthenon frieze, viz. the absence of relative truth. That is to say, each of these two groups may be absolutely true by itself as an artistic representation, while relatively to each other they are not true. It is often charged against the Greeks that in their best days they never succeeded in rendering landscape, where the relative value of every object is of the first importance. It was only in the latest stage of their art that they introduced a