Argumentum in the sense of the subject of a composition is as old as Plautus, “Post argumentum huius eloquar tragoediae,” Amph. Prol. 51. It is frequently used as here in relation to works of art, e. g. “Ex ebore diligentissime perfecta erant argumenta in valvis,” Cic. 2 Verr. 2. 4. 56, where a Gorgon's head (see note on v. 785 above) is instanced, as having been removed from the doors by Verres. It seems in fact to have been a technical term for historical and legendary subjects in art. Prop. 4. 9. 13, speaking of the different provinces of different artists, says, “Argumenta magis sunt Mentoris addita formae, At Myos exiguum flectit acanthus iter” (this and the last quoted passage from Cerda's note), where Paley understands the word of groups as opposed to single figures.
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