2. Paintings in the Stoa Poecile at Athens.
-- Among the works which Cimon undertook for the improvement of the city, after the final termination of the Persian wars, the spoils of which furnished him with the means, one of the first was the decoration of the places of public resort, such as the Agora and the Academy, the former of which he planted with plane-trees (Plut. Cim. 3
He also enlarged and improved the portico which ran along one side of the Agora, and which was called at first the Portico of Peisianax
(ἡ Πεισιανάκτειος στοά
), but afterwards received the name of the Poecile
or Painted Portico
(ἡ ποικίλη στοά
), from the paintings with which it was decorated. (Paus. 1.15
; Müller, Phid.
6; Böttiger, p. 275.) Cimon executed this work soon after his return from Thasos (Plut. l.c.
), and employed Polygnotus and Micon to decorate the portico with those paintings, from which it afterwards obtained its name.
The portico itself was a long colonnade, formed by a row of columns on one side and a wall on the other; and against this wall were placed the paintings, which were on panels.
These paintings, as they appeared in the time of Pausanias, represented four subjects :-- (1.)
The battle of Oenoe, fought between the Athenians and Lacedaemonians, the painter of which was unknown; (2.)
The battle of Theseus and the Athenians with the Amazons, by Micon; (3.) The Greeks, after the taking of Troy, assembling to judge the case of Cassandra's violation by Ajax ; this painting was by Polygnotus; (4.)
The battle of Marathon, by Panaenus; also ascribed to Micon and to Polygnotus, who may have assisted in the work. (Paus. l.c. ;
Böttiger, pp. 274-290 ; MICON, PANAENUS.) From the description of Pausanias, it would seem that, in the picture of Polygnotus, the Greek chieftains, sitting in judgment, formed the centre of the composition, with the Grecian army grouped on the one side, and, on the other, the Trojan captives, among whom Cassandra was conspicuous. Böttiger supposes that, in his treatment of the subject, the artist followed the Ἰλίου Πέρσις
of the cyclic poet Arctinus. Böttiger also supposes that there were two or three panels, representing different stages of the event; a supposition for which there does not seen to be sufficient reason.
The subject, as representing the first great victory of the united Greeks, was appropriately connected with the celebration of their recent triumphs.