1. Of Rhegium, one of the most celebrated statuaries of Greece. Pausanias, who calls him "excellent in the plastic art, if any other was so," gives the following as his artistic genealogy (6.4.2. s. 4) --
His precise date is difficult to fix. In Pliny's list he is placed at Ol. 87 (B. C. 432) with Ageladas, Callon, Polycletus, Myron, Scopas, and others. (H. N.
34.8. s. 19.) How little dependence is to be placed on Pliny's chronological groups of artists, we have had occasion more than once to notice, and the very names now mentioned furnish a sufficient proof.
It is indeed possible, as Sillig proposes, to apply the statement of Pliny to Pythagoras of Samos; but, as Pliny does not say which of the two artists he refers to, it is natural to suppose that he means the more distinguished one. We are inclined to believe that Pliny's reason for placing Pythagoras at this date was the circumstance which he afterwards mentions (l.c.
§ 4), that Pythagoras was in part contemporary with Myron, whose true date was Ol. 87.
The genealogy quoted above from Pausanias affords us no assistance, as the dates of the other artists in it depend on that of Pythagoras.
Most of the modern writers on ancient art attempt to determine the date of Pythagoras by his statues of Olympic victors.
This test is, however, not a certain one; for there are several instances of such statues not having been made until a considerable time after the victory. Still, at a period when art was flourishing, and when the making of these statues formed one of its most important branches, the presumption is that an Olympic victor would not be allowed to remain long without the honour of a statue; and therefore the date of the victory may be taken as a guide to that of the artist, where there is no decisive evidence to the contrary. Now, in the case of Pythagoras, one of his most celebrated works was the statue of the Olympic victor Astylus of Croton, who conquered in the single and double foot race in three successive Olympiads, and on the last two of these occasions he caused himself to be proclaimed as a Syracusan, in order to gratify Hiero. (Paus. 6.13.1
.) Now, supposing (as is natural) that this was during the time that Hliero was king (B. C. 478-467, Ol. 75. 3-78. 2), the last victory of Astylus must have been either in Ol. 77, or Ol. 78; or, even if we admit that Hiero was not yet king, and place the last victory of Astylus in Ol. 75 (Müller, Dorier,
Chron. tab.), the earliest date at which we should be compelled to place Pythagoras would be about B. C. 480, and, comparing this with Pliny's date, we should have B. C. 480-430 as the time during which he flourished.
This result agrees very well with the indications furnished by his other statues of Olympic victors, by his contest with Myron, and by the statements respecting the character of his art.
According to Diogenes Laertius (8.47), Pythagoras was the first who paid special attention to order and proportion in his art; and Pliny states that he was the first who expressed with care and accuracy the muscles and veins and hair (Plin. l.c.
§ 4). Hence it would seem that he was the chief representative of that school of improved development in statuary, which preceded the schools of perfect art which were established at Athens and at Argos respectively by Pheidias and Polycleitus; and that, while Ageladas was preparing the way for this perfection of art in Greece Proper, another school was growing up in Magna Graecia, which attained to its highest fame in Pythagoras; who, in his statues of athletes, practised those very principles of art, as applied to the human
figure, which Polycleitus brought to perfection; and who lived long enough to gain a victory over one of the most celebrated masters of the new Attic school, namely Myron.
The most important works of Pythagoras, as has just been intimated, appear to have been his statues of athletes. Unfortunately, the passage in which Pliny describes his works is extremely corrupt, but it can be pretty well corrected by the help of Pausanias. (Respecting the correction of the text, see Sillig, Cat. Art. s. v.,
and edition of Pliny, with Janus's supplement; and Thiersch, Epochen,
pp. 216, 217). Besides the statue of Astylus already mentioned, and the pancratiast at Delphi by which he gained his victory over Myron, he also made the statues of Leontiscus of Messana, an Olympic victor in wrestling (Paus. 6.4.2
), of Protolaus of Mantineia (6.6.1), of Elthymus, a very beautiful work of art (ib. § 2. s. 6), of Dromeus of Stymphalus (6.7.3. s. 10), of Mnaseas of Cyrene,who was known by the surname of Libys, and of his son Cratisthenes, who was represented in a chariot, with a Victory by his side (6.13.4. s. 7, 18.1). His other works, mentioned by Pliny, are, a naked figure carrying apples, perhaps Hercules with the golden apples of the Hesperides; a lame figure, at Syracuse, called Claudicansns,
"the pain of whose wound even the spectator seems to feel," a description which almost certainly indicates a Philoctetes ; two statues of Apollo, the one slaying the serpent Python with his arrows, the other playing the harp, of which two statues the latter was known by the surname of Dicaeus,
from a story that, when Thebes was taken by Alexander
, a fugitive hid his money in the bosom of the statue, and found it afterwards in safety.
There are still other works of Pythagoras, mentioned by other authors, namely, a winged Perseus (Dion Chrysost. Oral.
37. vol. ii. p. 106, ed. Reiske); Europa sitting on the bull (Tatian, ad v. Graec.
53, p. 116, ed. Worth; Varro, L. L.
5.6.31); Eteocles and Polyneices dying by their mutual fratricide (ibid. 54, p. 118); and a statue of Dionysus, mentioned in an epigram by Proclus, in which, though the name of Pythagoras does not occur, we can hardly be wrong in applying to him the epithet Ῥηγίνου
vol. ii. p. 446, No. 5; Jacobs, Append. Anth. Pal.
vol. ii. p. 782, No. 69).
There are still extant various medals, gems, and has-reliefs, on which there is a figure of Philoctetes, which some antiquaries believe to be after the type of the statue by Pythagoras, but the matter is quite uncertain.
Pliny tells us that Pythagoras had for a pupil his sister's son, Sostratus (l.c.