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N this book I have taken as a starting point certain
lectures on the sculptures of the Parthenon which I had the honour of addressing to the students of the Royal Academy several years ago. It was the experience of these lectures that has since led me to enter upon a much closer examination of the sculptures on artistic more than on archæological lines.
To assist the reader in following an inquiry of this kind, it was necessary to devise a scheme of illustration which would embrace the whole of the sculptures, so far as they are now known from originals still existing, or from Carrey's drawings of portions since lost. With this purpose in view, it has been found practicable (1) to give the frieze almost entirely, as we now know it, in one long folding sheet. The mere magnitude of the frieze as an artistic conception will thus be apparent at a glance, and I trust that its extraordinary beauty in detail will also be readily recognisable in the process of photogravure which has been employed.
(2) A similarly comprehensive view of the whole of the metopes seemed undesirable for two reasons: first, because a large proportion of those that still exist on the Parthenon are deplorably damaged; and secondly, because the metopes of the east and west fronts, even had they been well preserved, could not rightly have been dissociated from the
pediment sculptures immediately above them. We have, therefore, placed the east and west metopes, such as they now are, in connection with the respective pediments. It has, however, been possible to illustrate on one plate the entire series of the south metopes, partly from originals still well preserved, and partly from Carrey's drawings of the missing
Of the north metopes, the one that has best survived is given by itself.
(3) As regards the two pediments, we reproduce Carrey's drawings of the sculptures as he saw them in the seventeenth century, in each case adding the metopes as they now appear, and completing the architectural framework which he left unfinished. We give separately the principal pediment sculptures as they now exist. We reproduce copies of the gold and ivory statue of Athenè within the Parthenon, and add a certain number of illustrations in half-tone plates.
The interpretation of the two pediments has been, and still is, a subject of much discussion. The name most appropriate for each figure may be argued interminably. But all these discussions revolve round the simple question, Are the figures in the angles of both pediments deities of Olympos, or beings associated with the legendary history of Attica? On that question turns the grandeur of the artistic conception as a whole. We must each decide one way or the other. After that the names of the several figures are of less consequence. Therefore we have dealt briefly with matters of nomenclature all through.
A. S. MURRAY.