Page images
PDF
EPUB

which, as has been well pointed out," looks ungainly if we approach the frieze from the opposite direction. It will be observed also that the chests of the horses often reach the highest relief possible in the circumstances, and present to anyone following them the appearance of a billowy movement which helps to carry us on gently but surely.

The first group of horsemen we see on turning the north angle is still in a state of preparation, but beyond that the cavalcade breaks into speed, and so goes on till it reaches the chariots, of which there appear to have been nine, and forming a conspicuous feature midway along the frieze. It was just there that the greatest damage was done by the gunpowder explosion which blew out the centre of the cella walls. From the fragmentary chariot slabs that remain, aided by Carrey's drawings of those that have been destroyed, we can in a measure see how this striking series of chariots in the very centre of each long side must have provided the most attractive feature of all. “The large and simple forms of the horses, together with the greater space around them, would supply an element of repose to the eye of the spectator, while yet the fiery action of the horses and the energy of the apobatae would carry on the general movement of the procession.

The first chariot we come to on the north side is standing still (xxiii.). After that the chariots also dash forward, till the foremost (xi.) of them is violently pulled up beside the group of bearded representatives of a fine manhood (evavopla). We next overtake in order youths playing on lyres and on flutes, others carrying jars (hydriae) and trays, then boys leading

· W. Watkiss Lloyd, Trans. R. Soc. Lit., xvi. (1893).

sheep and cows for the great sacrifice. At this point we reach the north or south angle, as we choose, and find on the east side a quite new element of the procession—a string of young girls, the Ergastinae as they were called, who had been chosen to weave and embroider the new peplos for the image of Athenè, and who now were allowed to walk in the procession' behind the peplos, carrying some of them vessels for the sacrifice, others an object which has been a source of perplexity, and to present a silver cup to the goddess.

It may be asked, Why was this bringing of the new peplos associated with so apparently different a scene as the bestowing of prizes after the Panathenaic games? We can only suppose that the games, the culminating procession, and the great sacrifice to the gods had been founded in connection with the new peplos. The fact that the peplos was conveyed through the streets spread like a sail on a ship must have had its own significance, though we cannot pretend to fathom it. We can imagine the scene as a theoxenia or entertainment of the gods on a grand scale, and may even suppose that the peplos had been hung spread out on the Acropolis before being placed on the image of Athené, like the curtain displayed in the visit of Dionysos to Icarios, as seen in the bas-relief in the British Museum.

We may now consider certain matters of detail. In

.

1 Ηesychius gives, εργαστήναι: αι τον [είς τον πέπλον εμφανίζουσι πέπλον υφαίνουσαι. . See also the πεπομπευκέναι κατά τα προστεrestoration of several fragments of ταγμένα ως ότι κάλλιστα και ευσχηinscriptions referring to them in the μονέστατα κ]ατεσκευακέναι δε αυτάς Bull. Corr. Hell. xiii. p. 17ο: οι εκ[των ι]δίων και φιάλη[ν αργυρά]ν από πατέρες] των παρθένων [των ήργ] δρ[a]χμών εκατόν ήν και [βούλεσθαι ασμένων τη 'Αθηνά τα έρια τα αναθεί[ναι τη Αθηνά υπόμνημα κτλ.

the first place, there are no women in the whole procession except on the east frieze, and these, as we have seen, are mere girls. In the second place, there is throughout the frieze a large proportion of young men and boys. There are old and bearded men among the officials standing waiting on the Acropolis. Here and there we see a bearded man on horseback, and there was of course a special section of the procession which consisted of bearded men (N. 28-43 and S. 84-105) chosen as representatives of manhood (evavdpía). But otherwise the frieze of the Parthenon may be called a glorification of youth. The boy who brings the folded peplos, 35, and holds it up to the priest reminds one of the legendary boy Ion, when a ministrant at the temple of Delphi, where Euripides' describes him as bringing forth embroidered curtains from the Treasury. It is sometimes a question whether this boy is in the act of giving or receiving the peplos. But observe that one corner of the robe is tightly pressed between his left elbow and his side. Such a movement seems to be not only natural in giving up the peplos, but distinctly and intentionally expressive of that action. It would not be in the least natural if the boy were receiving the peplos from the priest.

We may here compare the figure of a boy at one of the angles of the north frieze, 134. He is standing behind his young master, whose girdle he appears to be fastening. The young man is pulling down with both hands the skirt of his chiton, as he would naturally do just after the girdle had

Ion, 1141. These curtains formed a of barbarian tapestries, representing tent, on the roof of which was woven ships at war with Greeks, fantastic creaor embroidered a picture of the starrytures composed of men and animals, heavens, while the walls were formed wild horses, lions, deer, and goats.

been tightened. The boy is eagerly bent in doing something. Both his hands, so far as they can be seen, are partially clasped together, the fingers of the right hand being visible under the left. That is hardly so explicit an indication of the act of fastening the girdle as could be wished, but it is intelligible if the fastening had just been completed. An alternative which has been proposed lately is that the boy is holding the reins of his master's horse. He is too eager and earnest for that, and, besides, the reins would surely be very long for a riding horse. On the marble there are holes on the horse's head to show that it had once had a metal bridle, and a drill-hole on the neck where metal reins had been attached. Apparently the reins had been left to hang loose on the neck of the horse. We should mention here that throughout the frieze there are many similar proofs of metal bridles and reins, occasionally also of metal wreaths on the heads of riders and others. Most probably it was bronze gilt that was employed.

But to return to the boys. The one fastening the girdle wears only a slight mantle doubled over his shoulders, which has been cut sharply down at the back, so as not to interfere with the angle line of the frieze behind him ; the one holding up the peplos has a more ample mantle. Yet both boys stand in the same attitude, with the right foot thrown back a little, presenting the same outline down the back. We may say that they represent the same type, each performing an act of personal service. On the west frieze there are other two boys, 6 and 24, and they also may be described as personal attendants. One of them, 24, so far as the figure has been preserved, bears a considerable likeness to the boy

fastening the girdle, with his serious pose of head, and the hand pointing to something. But the other boy, 6, is quite different. He is entirely nude, and, so far, is unique in the whole frieze, if we except the youthful god Eros. His attitude also is unusual, standing with one leg crossed over the other, and holding his hands in a singular manner. It has been suggested that he is meant to be holding the reins of his master's horse, and that does not seem altogether improbable, except that the reins would be too long for a 'riding horse, as we said before. But his easy attitude is the more curious because of the energetic stride which the marshal, 5, is making, with his right hand advanced as if to seize the bridle reins. He looks almost as if he were chiding the boy. The action of his legs is ungainly, if one may say so. The boy is youthful enough in appearance, yet his proportions have been greatly exaggerated by the sculptor. Later on we shall see other examples of a similar exaggeration, and consider the reason of them.

It is difficult to explain the figure standing at the head of this horse, 4. He has often been supposed to be putting the bit into the horse's mouth. But that is impossible, because both his hands are sufficiently preserved to show that they were turned away from the horse's head, and had nothing whatever to do with the horse. At the same time it looks very awkward to see two hands raised close to the mouth of a horse, which obviously is in need of being checked in some way, while yet these hands are in no manner occupied with him. It has been suggested that the man is clasping with both hands and resting on an upright rod, which had once existed in metal, at the same time

« PreviousContinue »