This name occurs in several passages of the ancient authors, in such a manner as to give rise to great difficulties.
There existed, at an early period in the history of Grecian art, a school of Samian artists, to whom various works and inventions are ascribed in architecture, sculpture, and metalwork, and whose names are Rhoecus, Telecles,
The genealogical table of the succession of these artists, according to the views of Müller, given under RHOECUS, may be referred to as a key to the ensuing discussion of the ancient testimonies, which is necessary in order to make the subject at all intelligible.
First of all, a manifest error must be cleared away. Thiersch (Epochen,
p. 50), following Heyne and Quatremère de Quincy, places this family of artists at the very beginning of the Olympiads, that is, in the eighth century, B. C.
The sole authority for this date is a passage of Pliny which, besides being quite vague, contains a decided mistake. (H. N.
35.12. s. 43.)
He says that " some relate that the first who invented the plastic art (plasticen
) were Rhoecus and Theodorus, in Samos, long before the Bacchiadae were expelled from Corinth,
" an event which is supposed to have occurred about the 30th Olympiad, B. C. 660; and he then proceeds to relate how, when Demaratus fled from that city into Italy, he was accompanied by the modellers (fictores
) Eucheir and Eugrammus, and so the art was brought into Italy. Now, in the whole of this passage, Pliny is speaking of plastice
in the literal sense of the word, modelling in clay,
not in the secondary sense, which it often has in the Greek writers, of casting in metal ;
but it is quite in accordance with his mode of using his authorities, that he should have understood the statements of those writers who ascribed to Rhoecus and Theodorus the invention of plastic
in the latter sense, as if they had been meant in the former. Having thus fallen into the mistake of making these artists the inventors of modelling,
he was compelled to place them considerably earlier than Eucheir and Eugrammus, by whom that art was said to have been brought into Italy. Even if this explanation be doubted, the statement of Pliny cannot be received, inasmuch as it is inconsistent with other and better testimonies, and is entirely unconfirmed; for the passage in which Plato mentions Theodorus in common with Daedalus (Ion,
p. 533a.) has no chronological reference at all, but the names of eminent artists are there purposely taken at random.
The blundering account of Athenagoras (Legat. pro Christ. 14.
p. 60, ed. Dechair), that Theodorus of Miletus,
in conjunction with Daedalus, invented the arts of statuary and modelling (ἀνδριαντοποιητικὴν καὶ πλαστικήν
) scarcely deserves to be mentioned, except that it may perhaps be regarded as involving a tradition of some value, because it indicates the coast of Asia Minor as one scene of the artistic activity of Theodorus. We proceed therefore to the positive testimonies respecting these artists.
The most definitely chronological of these testimonies are the passages in which Herodotus mentions Theodorus as the maker of the silver crater
which Croesus sent to Delphi (1.51), and of the celebrated ring of Polycrates (3.41). Now we learn from Herodotus that the silver crater was already at Delphi when the temple was burnt, in Ol. 58. 1, B. C. 548; and Polycrates was put to death in Ol. 64. 3, B. C. 522. Again, with respect to his identity, for this, as well as his date, is a point to be ascertained; in both passages Herodotus makes Theodorus a Samian, and in the latter he calls him the son of Telecles; in both it is implied that he was an artist of high reputation; and, in the former, Herodotus expressly states that he believed the tradition which ascribed the crater to Theodorus, because the work did not appear to be of a common order (συγτυχόν
). Pausanias (8.14.5
. s. 8) also mentions the ring of Polycrates as the work of Theodorus, whom lie also calls a Samian and the son of Telecles, and to whom, in conjunction with Rhoecus, the son of Philaeus, he ascribes the first invention of the art of fusing bronze or copper, and casting statues (διέχεαν δὲ χαλκὸν πρῶτοι καὶ ἀγάλματα ἐχωνεύσαντο
There appears here to be a difficulty as to the distinct specific meaning of the two verbs : but the true meaning is, that Rhoecus and Theodorus invented the art of casting figures, and at the same time made improvements in the process of mixing copper and tin to form bronze; as we learn from another passage (10.38.3. s. 6), in which Pausanias states that he has already, in a former part of his work (that is, in the passage just cited) mentioned Rhoecus, the son of Philaeus, and Theodorus, the son of Telecles, is those who invented the process of melting bronze more accurately, and who first cast it (τοὺς εὑρόντας χαλκὸν ἐς τὸ ἀκριβέστερον τῆξαι: καὶ ἐχώνευσαν οὗτοι πρῶτοι
In still another passage (3.12.8. s. 10) he makes the statement respecting the fusing and casting of metal, but in a slightly different form ; namely, that Theodorus of Samos was the first who discovered the art of fusing iron,
and of making statues of it (ὃς πρῶτος διαχέαι σίδηρον εὗρε καὶ ἀγάλματα ἀπ̓ αὐτοῦ πλάσαι
). Here nothing is said of Rhoecus, nor of Telecles; and it is also worth while to observe that we have here an example of the use of πλάσαι
in the sense which we supposed above to have misled Pliny.
There is another set of passages, in which various architectural works are attributed to those artists. Herodotus (3.60
), speaking of the temple of Hera at Samos as the greatest known in his time, states that its architect was Rhoecus, the son of Phileas, a native of the island; and Vitruvius (vii. Praef. § 12), mentions Theodorus as the author of a work on the same temple. Pliny (Plin. Nat. 36.13. s. 19.3
), in describing the celebrated Lemnian labyrinth, says that its architects were Smilis, Rhoecus, and Theodorus. (Comp. 34.8. s. 19.22, where the common reading places the labyrinth at Samos; but this is easily corrected by a change in the punctuation, proposed by Müller in his Aeginetica,
p. 99, and adopted by Sillig, in his edition of Pliny; namely, Theodorus, qui labyrinthum fecit, Sami ipse ex acre fudit :
it is, however, just as likely that the mistake is Pliny's own, or, that it was made by a copyist; see below). Another architectural work, ascribed to Theodorus, was the old Scias
at Sparta, as we learn from the same passage in which Pausanias mentions him as the inventor of casting in iron (3.12.8. s. 10).
He is also connected with the erection of the celebrated temple of Artemis at Ephesus by an interesting tradition, recorded by Diogenes Laertius (2.103), that Theodorus advised the laying down of charcoal-cinders beneath the foundation of the temple, as a remedy against the dampness of the site : here he is called a Samian, and the son of Rhoecus.
Lastly, the names of Theodorus and Telecles are connected with the history of the ancient wooden statues in a very curious manner. Diodorus (1.98
), in relating the various claims set up by the Egyptians to be considered the instructors of the Greeks in philosophy, science. and art. tells us that they asserted that the most celebrated of the ancient statuaries, Telecles and Theodorus, the sons of Rhoecus, lived a long time in Egypt; and that they told the following story respecting the wooden statue (εόανον
) of the Pythian Apollo, which those artists made for the Samians. Of this statue. Telecles made the one half in Samos, while the other half was made by his brother Theodorus at Ephesus ; and, when the two parts were placed together, they agreed as exactly as if the whole body had been made by one person; a result which the Egyptians ascribed to the fact, that their rules of art had been learnt by Telecles and Theodorus.
With this tradition we may connect one preserved by Pliny, that Theodorus of Samos was the inventor of certain tools used in working wood, namely, the norma, libella, tornus,
(Plin. Nat. 7.56
Now, in considering the conclusions which are to be drawn from all this evidence, it is as well first to exclude the assertion of Thiersch, that there were two artists of the name of Telecles, which rests on no other ground than the necessity of lengthening out the genealogy in order to suit the too early date which he has assumed for Rhoecus.
He makes Rhoecus, with his sons Telecles and Theodorus, flourish at the beginning of the Olympiads, and then, nearly two centuries later, he comes to another Telecles, with his son Theodorus, the artist who lived in the time of Polycrates.
The real questions to be determined are these, Were Theodorus. the son of Rhoecus, and Theodorus, the son of Telecles, different persons, or the same ? If the former, was the one Theodorus, namely, the son of Rhoecus, the same as Theodorus, the brother of Telecles, and was this Telecles the same as the father of the other Theodorus ? If these questions be answered in the affirmative, little difficulty remains in adopting the genealogy of Müller, as given under RHOECUS.
If the first of these questions can be satisfactorily answered, the others are easily disposed of. And here, in the first place, the above testimonies can hardly be explained on any other supposition than that there existed distinct traditions respecting two different Samian artists of the name of Theodorus, the one the son of Rhoecus and the brother of Telecles, and the other the son of Telecles. For the former, we have the passages in Diogenes and Diodorus; for the latter, one passage of Herodotus and two of Pausanias; and besides these, there is one passage of Herodotus, one of Plato, one of Pausanias, one of Vitruvius, and four of Pliny, in which Theodorus is mentioned, without his father's name, but, in nearly every instance, as a Samian, and as closely connected with Rhoecus. Of course, the well-known facts, of the alternate succession of names, and the hereditary transmission of art, in Grecian families, must not be left out of the consideration. On the other hand, if we suppose only one Theodorus, we must assume that Diogenes has made one decided mistake, and Diodorus two, namely, in making Telecles and Theodorus sons of Rhoecus; or else we must have recourse to the still more arbitrary and improbable supposition, that this one and only Theodorus was the son of Telecles, and the grandson of Rhoecus.
The conclusion adopted by Mr. Grote (History of Greece,
vol. iv. p. 132), that there was only one Theodorus, namely, the son of Rhoecus, is the least probable of all, as it compels us to reject the positive statements, which make him the son of Telecles, and therefore, " the positive evidence does not enable us to verify" his theory, as he remarks of the genealogies of Miller and Thiersch.
A positive argument for distinguishing the two Theodori has been derived from a comparison of the passage in which Pausanias speaks of the bronze statue of Night, ascribed to Rhoecus, as being of the rudest workmanship (10.38.3. s. 6), with that in which Herodotus describes the crater made by Theodorus as a work of no common order (1.51). Surely, it is argued, there could not be so great a difference in the works of the father and the son, and much less can it be accounted for, if we suppose Rhoecus and Theodorus to have been strictly contemporary.
There is perhaps some force in this argument, but it can hardly be considered decisive.
It may also be observed that, in none of the passages, in which the architectural works of Theodorus are referred to, is he called the son of Telecles, while, on the other hand, the names of Rhoecus and Theodorus are closely associated in these works; facts which suggest the hypothesis that, while the elder Theodorus followed chiefly the architectural branch of his father's profession, the younger devoted himself to the development of the art of working in metal. Miller has attempted also to draw a positive conclusion respecting the dates of these artists from the buildings on which they are said to have been engaged. The Heraeum at Samos is referred to by Herodotus in such a way as to imply, not only that it was one of the most ancient of the great temples then existing, but also that it had been, at least in part, erected before the 37th Olympiad; and hence Müller places Rhoecus about Ol. 35, which agrees very well with the time at which his supposed grandson Theodorus flourished, namely, in the reigns of Croesus and Polycrates.
This also agrees with the story told by Diogenes of the connection of the first Theodorus, the son of Rhoecus, with the laying of the foundation of the temple of Artemis at Ephesus, which was probably commenced about B. C. 600. [CHERSIPHON.] The most probable conclusion, then, (for anything like certainty is clearly unattainable,) we think to be this : that the genealogy and dates given under Rhoecus are tolerably correct : that Rhoecus was the inventor of the casting of metals, and that this art was carried on by the family of which he was the head : that Rhoecus and his son Theodorus erected the Heraeum and the Lemnian labyrinth, and that the latter laid the foundation of the temple of Artemis : that the younger Theodorus devoted himself more especially to the task of perfecting the art of casting metals, and that this is the reason why he, rather than other members of the family, is mentioned, with Rhoecus, at the head of that branch of art ; and that to this younger Theodorus should be ascribed the silver crater of Croesus and the ring of Polycrates. We are quite aware of some minor objections to this theory, which remain unanswered ; but the subject, interesting as it is, both critically and historically, has already been pursued almost beyond the proper limits of this article.
Another question, important in the early history of Greek art, arises out of the statements respecting these Samian artists, namely, how far they were affected by foreign influence.
The story told by the Egyptians, and repeated by Diodorus, must be received with great caution; but even those, who contend most strongly for the native origin of Greek art, admit that Telecles and Theodorus may have learnt some mechanical processes from the Egyptians.
But the fact is, that the point involved in the story relates not so much to mechanical processes as to rules of proportion; for, in order to accomplish the result stated, the precise proportions of the human figure must have been settled by rule, as well as the precise attitude; and the question is, whether the Greeks, at this early period, had established such rules of proportion independently of the Egyptians. On the other hand, the statements with respect to the invention of metal-casting make it of purely native origin; whereas we know that it existed long before, among the Phoenicians. for the two bronze pillars and various vessels of Solomon's temple are expressly said to have been cast in earthen moulds by Phoenician artists. (1 Kings 7.46.) Now, when we remember that an extensive commerce was carried on in very early times by the Phoenicians in the Levant and the Aegean, and also that Samos is said to have been the earliest Grecian maritime state in those parts, a strong probability is established, that arts already existing in Egypt and Phoenicia may have been transferred to Samos.
The full discussion of these questions belongs to the general history of Greek art : we will here only add that we believe the Egyptian and Phoenician influence on Greece in early times to have been lately as much undervalued as it was formerly exaggerated.
It only remains to explain one or two points connected with the works ascribed to these artists.
Besides the silver crater presented by Croesus to the Delphians, there was a golden one found by Alexander
among the treasures of the Persian kings, which was also said to be the work of Theodorus of Samos. (Amynt. apud Ath. xiv. p. 515a.)
With respect to the ring of Polycrates, it has been much disputed whether the stone in it was engraved or not.
The words of Herodotus (3.41
, σμαράγδου μὲν λίθου ὲοῦσα
, ἔργον δὲ κ. τ. λ.
) will, we think, bear either meaning. Of course no great weight can be assigned to the statements of later writers, such as Strabo (xiv. p.638
), Pausanias (l.c.
), Pollux (5.100), and Clemens (Protrept.
iii. p. 247, ed. Sylburg), who assert that it was engraved, any more than to that of Pliny, who says that it was not, and that the art of gem-engraving was invented many years later. (H.N.
This last statement can be positively contradicted, so far as the East is concerned, by the account of Aaron's breast-plate (Exod.
28.17-21), in which not only were the precious stones engraved, but they were " like the engravings of a signet ;
" and other evidence might be adduced to prove the very early use of engraved seal-rings in the East. Some evidence that the art was known in the islands of the Aegean, and particularly in Samos, even before the time of Polycrates, is furnished by the tradition that the father of Pythagoras was an engraver of seal-rings, δακτυλιογλύφος
(Diog. 8.1; MNESARCHUS), and there is another tradition which would prove that it had been introduced at Athens in the time of Solon. (Diog. 1.57.) Lastly, with respect to bronze statues by Theodorus, Pausanias expressly says that he knew of none such (10.38.3. s. 6); but Pliny, on the contrary (H. N.
34.8. s. 19.22), tells us that the same Theodorus, who made the labyrinth, cast in bronze a statue of himself, which was equally celebrated for the excellence of the likeness and for its minute size.
It held a file in the right hand, and a little quadriga in the left, the whole being so small as to be covered by the wings of a fly, which formed a part of the work (tantae parvitatis ut totam eam currumque et aurigam integeret alis simul facta musea
It is obvious that a work like this could not belong to the age of Croesus and Polycrates. Such productions of patient ingenuity were made at a later period, as by MYRMECIDES; and, considering how common a name Theodorus was, it seems very probable that there may have been, at some period, an artist of the name, who made such minute works, and that some thoughtless transcriber has introduced the words " qui labyrinthum fecit.
To sum up the whole, it seems probable that there were two ancient Samian artists named Theodoras, namely : --
1. The son of Rhoecus, and brother of Telecles, flourished about B. C. 600, and was an architect, a statuary in bronze, and a sculptor in wood.
He wrote a work on the Heraeum at Samos, in the erection of which it may therefore be supposed that he was engaged as well as his father. Or, considering the time which such a building would occupy, the treatise may perhaps be ascribed to the younger Theodorus.
He was also engaged, with his father, in the erection of the labyrinth of Lemnos ; and he prepared the foundation of the temple of Artemis at Ephesus. We would also ascribe to him the old Scias
In conjunction with his brother Telecles, he made the wooden statue of Apollo Pythius for the Samians, according to the fixed rules of the hieratic style.
2. The son of Telecles, nephew of the elder Theodorus, and grandson of Rhoecus, flourished about B. C. 560, in the times of Croesus and Polycrates, and obtained such renown as a statuary in bronze, that the invention of that art was ascribed to him, in conjunction with his grandfather.
He also practiced the arts of engraving metals (τορευ- τική
), and of gem-engraving; his works in those departments being the gold and silver craters mentioned above, and the ring of Polycrates.
For the different views of modern writers respecting these artists, see Sillig, Cat. Artif. s. vv. Telecles, Theodorus ;
Müller, Archüol. d. Kunst.
§§ 35, n.l, 55, n., 60, 70, n. 4, 80. n. 1.1, 97, n. 2, 159 ; Bähr, ad Herod. ll. cc.
Other Later artists named Theodorus
There were several later artists of the same name : --
3. An Argive sculptor, the son of Poros, made a statue of Nicis, the son of Andromidas, which was dedicated by the people of Hermione, as we learn from an extant inscription, the character of which as well as the nature of the work, an honorifie statue of a private individual, lead to the conclusion that the artist lived at a comparatively late period. (Böekh, Corp. Inscr.
No. 1197; Welcker, Kunstblatt,
1827, No. 83; R. Rochette, Lettre à M. Schorn,
pp. 415, 416, 2d ed.)
4. A sculptor or modeller, of unknown time, made the celebrated bas-relief, known as the Tabula Iliaca,
as appears from an inscription on its back, which runs thus, ΘΕΟΔΩΡΗΟΣΗΙΤΕΧΝΗ
, that is, Θεοδώρειος ἡ τέχνη
. (Lehrs, Rhein. Mus.
1843, vol. ii. p. 355; Jahn, in Gerhard's Archäol. Zeitung,
vol. i. p. 302; R. Rochette, Lettre à M. Schorn,
p. 416, 2d ed.)
5. A Theban statuary, mentioned by Diogenes Laertius, in his list of persons of the name (2.104). Nothing more is known of him, nor of the three other painters whose names are found in the same list.
6. A painter mentioned by Polemon (Diog. l.c.
7. An Athenian painter, mentioned by Menodotus. (Diog. l.c.
8. An Ephesian painter, mentioned by Theophanes, in his work on painting. (Diog. l.c.
9. A painter, whose name is contained in Pliny's list of those who were primis proximi
35.8. s. 40.40), and who may very probably be identical with one of the three mentioned by Diogenes. Pliny ascribed to him the following works : -- Se inungenlem,
which appears to mean an athlete anointing himself; the murder of Clytemnestra and Aegisthus by Orestes; the Trojan War, a composition on several panels, preserved at Rome in the portico of Philip; Cassandra, also at Rome, in the temple of Concord (comp. Welcker, ad Philostr. Imag.
p. 459); Leontium Epicuri cogitantem,
which ought perhaps to be read like the similar passage a little above (10. s. 36.19) Leontionem pictorem ;
and king Demetrius.
This last work, if a portrait taken from life, would place the artist's date at, or a little before, B. C. 300.
10. A Samian painter, the disciple of Nicosthenes, mentioned by Pliny in his list of those painters who were not ignobiles quidem, in transcursu tamen dicendi. (H. N.
35.11. s. 40.42.)