previous next


Πολυκλῆς), artists.

1. 2. Two statuaries of this name are mentioned by Pliny (Plin. Nat. 34.8. s. 19); one, as flourishing in the 102d Olympiad (B. C. 370), contemporary with Cephisodotus, Leochares, and Hypatodorus; the other, as one of a number of statuaries, who flourished at the revival of the art in the 156th Olympiad (B. C. 155), and who, though far inferior to those who lived from the time of Pheidias down to the 120th Olympiad (B. C. 300), were nevertheless artists of reputation. In this list the name of Polycles is followed by the word Athenaeus, which is usually taken for the name of another artist, but which may perhaps, as Sillig has observed, indicate the city to which Polycles belonged ; for it is not at all improbable that Pliny would copy the words Πολυκλῆς Ἀθηναῖος, which he found in his Greek authority, either through carelessness, or because he mistook the second for the name of a person. It is also extremely probable that the elder Polycles was an Athenian, and that he was, in fact, one of the artists of the later Athenian school, who obtained great celebrity by the sensual charms exhibited in their works. For not only does Pliny mention Polycles I. in connection with Cephisodotus I. and Leochares, whom we know to have been two of the most distinguished artists of that school; but he also ascribes to Polycles (without, however, specifying which of the two) a celebrated statue of an Hermaphrodite, a work precisely in keeping with the character of the school which produced the Ganymede of Leochares. (Plin. l.c. § 20.) From the comparison, then, of these two statements, the inference is highly probable that the Hermaphrodite was the work of the elder Polycles, who was an artist of the later Athenian school of statuary. Müller strongly confirms this view by the ingenious observation, that, in Pliny's alphabetical lists of artists, the names under each letter come pretty much in the order of time; and in the present instance, the name ot Polycles comes before those of Pyrrhus and of Phoenix, the disciple of Lysippus. (Archäol. d. Kunst, § 128, n. 2.)

Respecting the Hermaphrodite of Polycles, it cannot be determined with certainty which of the extant works of this class represents its type, or whether it was a standing or a recumbent figure. The prevailing opinion among archaeologists is that the celebrated recumbent Hermaphrodite, of which we have two slightly different examples, in marble, the one in the Florentine Gallery, the other in the Louvre (formerly in the Villa Borghese), is copied from the bronze statue of Polycles. (Meyer, Kunstgeschichte, vol. i. pp. 98, 99, and plate 9 ; Müller, Archäol. d. Kunst, § 392, n. 2; Osann, Ueber eine in Pompeii Ausgegrabene Hermaphroditenstatue ; and Böttiger, Ueber die Hermaphroditen-Fabel und Bildung, in the Amalthea, vol. i. pp. 342-366.)

The younger Polycles, from the date assigned to him by Pliny, and from the mention of a statue of Juno by Polycles in the portico of Octavia at Rome (Plin. Nat. 36.4. s. 5.10), would seem to have been one of the Greek artists who flourished at Rome about the time of the original erection of that portico by Metellus Macedonicus. But it is evident, on a careful examination of the latter passage of Pliny, and it is probable, from the nature of the case, that many, if not most of the works of art, with which Metellus decorated his portico, were not the original productions of living artists, but either the works of former masters, transported from Greece, or marble copies taken from such works. It contained, for example, works by Praxiteles, one of which stood in the very part of the edifice in which the statue by Polycles was placed. Hence arises the suspicion that this Polycles may be no other than the great Athenian artist already mentioned; that, like other statuaries of that era (Praxiteles, for instance), he wrought in marble as well as in bronze, or else that the marble statue of Juno in the portico of Metellus was only a copy from one of his works, and that Pliny places him erroneously at the 156th Olympiad, because, finding him mentioned among the artists whose works stood in the portico of Metellus, he mistook him for an artist living at the period of its erection. It is true that this is uncertain conjecture; but Pliny is very apt to make mistakes, and still more the copyists, especially in lists of names, and a sound critic is very reluctant to consent to the unnecessary multiplication of persons bearing distinguished names.

The name, however, occurs in Pausanias as well as Pliny. In his enumeration of the statues of Olympic victors, after mentioning statues by Pheidias and Silanion, he says that another statuay of the Athenians, Polycles, the disciple of Stadieus the Athenian, made an Ephesian boy, a pancratiast, Amyntas the son of Hellanicus. (Paus. 6.4.3. s. 5.) It is evident from this passage that this Polycles was a very distinguished Athenian artist, and the context seems to show that he flourished between the times of Pheidias and Lysippus, and nearer to the latter. If, therefore, there were two artists of the name, he is probably the same as the elder. In another passage he mentions the statue of the Olympic victor Agesarchus, as the work of the sons of Polycles, whose names he does not give, but of whom he promises to say more in a subsequent part of his work (6.12.3. s. 9). Accordingly, at the end of the chapter in which he describes Elateia in Phocis, after mentioning the temple of Asclepius, with the bearded statue of the god in it, made by Timocles and Timarchides, who were of Athenian birth, he proceeds to give an account of the temple of Athena Cranaea, in which was a statue of the goddess, equipped as if for battle, and with works of art upon the shield in imitation of the shield of the Athena of the Parthenon; "and this statue also," he says, "was made by the sons of Polycles." (Paus. 10.34.3. s. 6-8.) From this passage, taken in its connection, it is evident that the sons of Polycles were no other than Timocles and Timarchides, and that these were Athenian artists of considerable reputation. Now, reverting to Pliny, we find in the same list of statuaries at the revival of the art in Ol. 156, in which the name of Polycles occurs, the name of Timocles; and in the passage respecting the works in the portico of Octavia, immediately after the mention of the statue of Juno by Polycles, he mentions that of Jupiter by the sons of Timarchides, in the adjacent temple. It follows that, if there be no mistake in Pliny, the Polycles of the two latter passages of Pausanias (and perhaps, therefore, of the first) was the younger Polycles. At all events, we establish the existence of a family of Athenian statuaries, Polycles, his sons Timocles and Timarchides, and the sons of Timarchides, who either belonged (supposing Pliny to have made the mistake above suggested) to the later Attic school of the times of Scopas and Praxiteles, or (if Pliny be right) to the period of that revival of the art, about B. C. 155, which was connected with the employment of Greek artists at Rome. (Comp. TIMARCHIDES and TIMOCLES.) There is still one more passage in which the name of Polycles occurs, as the maker of some statues of the Muses, in bronze. (Varro, apud Nonium, s. v. Ducere.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
155 BC (2)
370 BC (1)
300 BC (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: