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The Early and High Classic Periods

From Archaic to Classic

The sources connect a number of names with the transition to the early classic, but most are mere shadows today. Even Kalamis, though clearly an important figure (T 2, T 3), remains deeply problematic, for not only has no attribution gained general acceptance, but the sources clearly point to two sculptors called Kalamis, one active ca. 470 and the other after ca. 400 (e.g. T 61): see esp. Overbeck 1868/1959, nos. 508-32, 857; Raubitschek 1949,, 505-08; Delivorrias 1978; Pollitt 1990, 46-48, 94, 222-23. We shall meet a similar situation with regard to Bryaxis in the fourth-third centuries (T 107, T 108).

As to the following selection, though it ostensibly covers all the major centers, in fact neither East Greek nor Peloponnesian sculptors can be adequately represented, simply because no ancient author cared about their work. Pythagoras of Samos and the Olympia master are no real substitute, for the former apparently migrated to the West when young, and (pace Pausanias, T 39) the latter remains an enigma: though his workshop perhaps included Parians, his own identity remains obscure.

Kritios and Nesiotes of Athens(?)



Since the Tyrannicides of Kritios and Nesiotes (cf. Naples G103-104; Stewart 1990, figs. 227-31) are usually taken to mark the official "birthday" of the Severe style, these two sculptors deserve first place in the series. Yet although no fewer than six Akropolis signatures of theirs survive, on dedications by wealthy Athenians or foreign residents, only their association with the Tyrannicides saved them from oblivion in antiquity. The crucial witnesses here are Pausanias (T 31) and the third-century Marmor Parium (FGH 239 A 54) which gives a date equivalent to 477/6. So prestigious a commission bespeaks a certain standing in their craft, and indeed Nesiotes' name was appended to a dedication of ca. 500 (but puzzlingly alone, without the verb "made [it]": Raubitschek 1949, no. 84), while two of their jointly-signed bases (Raubitschek 1949, nos. 122, 161) were found in the Persian debris, so should also pre-date 480. The others may extend to ca. 460, though none is as late as 448-445, the (surely tendentious) floruit given by Pliny: see commentary to T 1.

In T 1, Pliny links them to the shadowy Hegesias (or Hegias), singled out in T 3 and elsewhere as an early exponent of the new manner, and reportedly Pheidias' teacher. Lucian repeats the association, adding details that suggest a Hellenistic art critic as a source; since Antigonos of Karystos actually wrote on Kritios' pupils (Diogenes Laertius 9.49), he may be a good candidate.

“Then [the professor of rhetoric] will tell you to emulate those men of old, setting before you obsolete models of speeches, difficult to imitate, like the antiquated works of Hegesias, Kritios, and Nesiotes, compact, sinewy, hard, and precisely divided into parts by lines.

Lucian, Rhet. Praec. 9
The division of labor within the partnership remains obscure: Brunnsaaker 1971, 138-141 argues against a modeler/caster duo, while Mattusch 1980, 441 tries to reinstate the distinction; yet on the Foundry Cup (Munich 2650) the two master-sculptors — if such they are, and not clients — are not shown in this guise but preside as equals over the finishing touches.

Attributions range from the "Kritios" boy (Athens, Acropolis 698; cf. Hurwit 1989; Stewart 1990, figs. 219-20) to the Tivoli "Warrior" and even some of the "early" Parthenon metopes. All are based on style alone, and seem difficult to sustain in the face of our total ignorance of the styles of their (numerous) Athenian contemporaries and the variability of the copies: see e.g. Raeder 1983, 88, 220-222.

Pausanias (Paus. 6.4.5) and Pliny, N.H. 34.85 put together a "school" of Kritios, extending even beyond 400, but none of its members has left any obvious trace in the monuments.

Select bibliography: Overbeck 1868/1959, nos. 452-69; Löwy 1885/1976, nos. 38-40; Stuart-Jones 1895/1966, 50-52; RE 9.2: 1915-16 (Lippold, 1922); ThB 21, 545-47 (Bieber, 1927); Picard 1935-1971 (vol. 2): (Picard/Manuel) 11-19; Raubitschek 1949, 513-17; Lacroix 1949, 238-43; Lippold 1950, 106-08; EAA 4, 410-15 (Fuchs, 1961); Boardman 1967, 280-81; Richter 1970a (Baiae cast); Richter 1970d, 154-56; Ridgway 1970, 79-83; Brunnsaaker 1971; M. Robertson 1975, 185-86; Mattusch 1980; Brommer 1982, 152; Weber 1983; Raeder 1983, 88; Gallet de Santerre 1983, 180, 197-98, 241, 269-70, 271; Boardman 1985a, 24-25; Landwehr 1985, 27-47, nos. 1-8 (Baiae casts); Mattusch 1988, 119-25; Hurwit 1989 (Kritios Boy); Pollitt 1990, 43; Stewart 1990, 28, 135-36, 237-38, 251-52, 324.

Onatas son of Mikon, of Aegina


Despite the fame of "Aeginetan bronze" (Pliny, N.H. 34.10), ancient critics virtually ignored Aeginetan sculpture as such; only Pausanias was interested in it, so that apart from a single Hellenistic epigram (Anth. Pal. 9.238) he is our sole witness to the achievements of the foremost Aeginetan sculptor, Onatas.

“The second mountain, Mt. Elaios, is about 30 stades from Phigaleia, and has a cave sacred to Demeter surnamed Black ... [Pausanias then tells the story of Poseidon's rape of Demeter and Persephone's abduction by Hades] ... As a result, the Phigalians say, they accounted the cave sacred to Demeter, and set up a wooden image in it. The image was made in the following fashion: it was seated on a rock, and was like a woman in all respects save the head. She had the head and hair of a horse, and serpents and other beasts grew out of her head. Her chiton reached right to her feet, and she held a dolphin in one hand, a dove in the other. Why they made the xoanon like this should be clear to any intelligent man who is versed in tradition. They say they named her Black because the goddess wore black clothing. However, they cannot remember who made this xoanon or how it caught fire; but when it was destroyed the Phigalians gave no new image to the goddess and largely neglected her festivals and sacrifices, until finally barrenness fell upon the land ... [They then consulted Delphi, and were told that good times would return only if they restored her former honors to her] ... So when they heard the oracle that was brought back, they held Demeter in even higher honor than before, and particularly they persuaded Onatas son of Mikon of Aegina to make them an image of Demeter at any price he asked. The Pergamenes have a bronze Apollo of his, which they marvel at both for its size and its art. This man, then, discovering a picture or copy of the ancient xoanon —but guided for the most part (as it is said) by a vision he saw in his dreams — made a bronze image for the Phigalians about a generation after the Persian invasion of Greece [480]. My evidence for the date is as follows: when Xerxes invaded Europe, Gelon son of Deinomenes was tyrant of Syracuse and the rest of Sicily. When Gelon died [478] the rule passed on to Hieron, his brother. But when Hieron died [467/66] before he could dedicate to Olympian Zeus the offerings which he had vowed for his victories in the horse-races, his son Deinomenes set them up on behalf of his father. These too are the works of Onatas, and there are inscriptions at Olympia, of which the one over the offering reads: “For his victories in your holy games, Olympian Zeus,
Once in the chariot-and-four, twice with the race-horse,
Hieron bestowed these gifts on you; but his son dedicated them,
Deinomenes, in memory of his Syracusan sire.
” The other inscription is: “Onatas, son of Mikon, fashioned me
Who has his home on Aegina's isle.
” Onatas was contemporary with Hegias of Athens and Hageladas of Argos.

It was mainly to see this Demeter that I came to Phigaleia.

... But the image made by Onatas no longer existed in my time, and most of the Phigalians were not aware that it had ever existed at all. The oldest of the inhabitants I met said that three generations before his time some rocks had fallen on it from the cave roof, crushing it and destroying it utterly. Indeed, I could still see clearly the place in the roof where the rocks had broken away.

Pausanias' dating roughly coincides with the archaeological evidence: a signed base from the Akropolis may belong to the Persian debris and predate 480, and his Achaean monument in Olympia lies below the temple fill and so should be earlier than ca. 460. Unfortunately, however, landscaping done after the temple's completion ca. 457 cannot be ruled out entirely.

Onatas worked exclusively in bronze:

  • Chariot of Hieron I of Syracuse at Olympia (T 36
  • Group of 9 heroes and Nestor, drawing lots to determine who should fight Hektor, dedicated by the Achaeans at Olympia (T 37
  • Hermes with a ram (kriophoros), dedicated by the Pheneans at Olympia
  • Colossal Herakles dedicated by the Thasians at Olympia (T 38
  • Dedication of Kephalos of Byzantion at Olympia
  • Cavalry and infantry standing by Taras and Phalanthos bestriding the slain native king Opis, dedicated by the Tarentines at Delphi
  • Dedication of Timarchos on the Akropolis
  • Apollo, later at Pergamon (T 36
A mutilated signature from Pergamon, Pergamon 8.1, no. 48, may come from the base of no. 9. Parts of the base of no. 3 also survive, and fit Pausanias' description:

“There are also offerings dedicated by the whole Achaean race in common: they represent those who, when Hektor challenged any Greek to meet him in single combat, dared to await the outcome of the lot. They stand near the great temple armed with spears and shields. Right opposite, Nestor stands on another base, casting the lot of each into the helmet. Those who are drawing lots to meet Hektor are now only eight in number — for the ninth, the statue of Odysseus, was carried off to Rome, they say, by Nero — and of the eight remaining only Agamemnon's has his name inscribed below: the inscription runs, moreover, from right to left. The figure with the cock emblazoned on his shield is Idomeneus the descendant of Minos: they say that Idomeneus was descended from Helios the father of Pasiphae, and that the cock is sacred to Helios and announces when he is about to rise. An inscription is written on the pedestal: “These images were dedicated to Zeus by the Achaeans,
Descendants of Pelops, the godlike Tantalid.
” This is written on the pedestal, but the sculptor's signature is written on Idomeneus's shield: “This is one of the many works of clever Onatas,
Whom Mikon begat in Aegina.

In this epigram Onatas calls himself sophos, "clever", in the tradition of Phaidimos and other archaic sculptors (cf. Stewart 1990, 68); yet this self-assertiveness did not prevent him from collaborating with others on at least three of the monuments listed above: with Kalamis on no. 2 (Paus. 6.12.1; cf. T 2-3), Kalliteles on no. 4, and Kalynthos(?) on no. 7. Our only information concerning his style comes once again from Pausanias:

“The Thasians ... dedicated a Herakles at Olympia, the base as well as the image being of bronze. The image is ten cubits [15 feet] high, and has a club in his right hand and a bow in his left... On this dedication by the Thasians at Olympia is an elegiac couplet: “Onatas, son of Mikon, fashioned me
He who has his home on Aegina.
” This Onatas, though his sculptural style is Aeginetan, I shall place second to none of the pupils of Daidalos and the Attic school.

Yet this essentially unhelpful remark has not inhibited attributions, which fall into five more-or-less mutually exclusive groups, as follows: (a) the Artemision Zeus (Athens, NM Br. 15161), "Omphalos" Apollo (Athens, NM 45; Munich GL 265), Aegina sphinx, "Aspasia"/Europa, and Corinth/Mocenigo goddess (London 209) (cf. Stewart 1990, figs. 285-88); (b) an Athena head from Aegina in the Louvre and the Delphi charioteer (Delphi 3520; cf. Stewart 1990, figs. 301-02); (c) Aegina East Pediment 2 (cf. Stewart 1990, fig. 245-53) and a bronze head from the Akropolis (Athens, NM 6446, cf. Stewart 1990, fig. 249); (d) a Herakles in Cherchel, a small bronze Hermes kriophoros in Paris, a bearded head on the Akropolis, and three warriors in Mariemont and Rome — all copies; and (e) the Riace bronzes (Stewart 1990, figs. 292-96). Others give (a) to Kalamis, (c) to Kalon, and (e) to Pheidias, which suggests that though some connection with Aegina is apparent in each case, to choose between them is hopelessly arbitrary.

Select bibliography: Overbeck 1868/1959, nos. 421-28, 524; Stuart-Jones 1895/1966, 41-48; ThB 26: 17-18 (Bieber, 1932); RE 18.1: 408-11 (Lippold, 1939); Raubitschek 1949, 520-22; Lipppold 1950, 98, 101-02; EAA: 5, 691-92 (de Marinis, 1963); Boardman 1967, 276-80; Eckstein 1969, 27-32; Ridgway 1970, 61-65, 72-73, 88-89; Schefold 1973; M. Robertson 1975, 184, 197, 271; Dörig 1977; Vierneisel-Schlorb 1979, 10-12; Beschi 1982, 232-8; E.B. Harrison 1985, 47-54; Landwehr 1985, 47-60, nos. 9-28 (Baiae casts); Pollitt 1990, 36-39, 227; Stewart 1990, 44, 63, 94, 147-48, 169, 214, 252-53.

The Olympia Master

Pausanias' attribution of the Olympia pediments to Paionios (E) and Alkamenes (W) is probably a misreading of his own notes. In his Nike inscription (T 81) Paionios tells us that he made the (east?) akroteria for the temple, and Lippold 1950, 205 (cf. Jeffery 1980a, 1234-35) has plausibly suggested that Alkamenes made the other set. Modern suggestions for the pediments and metopes, often less happy still, are summarized in EAA 5: 656-7 (Becatti, 1963). The identity of the Olympia Master remains a mystery.

“The temple and image were made for Zeus from spoils, when the Eleans crushed Pisa and her allies in war [ca. 470] .... The temple is Doric in style, and the outside is colonnaded. It is built of local limestone. Its height up to the pediment is 68 feet, its breadth 95 feet, its length 230 feet. The architect was Libon, a local man .... A gilded cauldron stands on each corner of the roof, and a Nike, also gilded, stands right above the middle of the pediment. Beneath the Nike is a golden shield, with Medusa the Gorgon in relief...[Pausanias then cites the shield's Spartan dedication commemorating their defeat of the Athenians at Tanagra in 457]...

Turning to the pediments, the one in front represents the contest, not yet begun, between Pelops and Oinomaos in chariot-racing, with both sides involved in preparations for the actual race. An image of Zeus stands right in the center of the pediment; and on the right of Zeus is Oinomaos with a helmet on his head, flanked by his wife Sterope, one of the daughters of Atlas. Myrtilos, who drove the chariot of Oinomaos, sits in front of the horses, which are four in number. After him there are two men: they have no names, but must have been ordered by Oinomaos to attend to the horses. On the very end reclines Kladeos, the river which in other ways also is most honored by the Eleans after the Alpheios. On the left from Zeus are Pelops, Hippodameia, the charioteer of Pelops, horses, and two men, who are apparently grooms for Pelops too. Then the pediment narrows again, and in this corner Alpheios is represented. The name of the man who is Pelops' charioteer in the Troezenian version of the story is Sphairos, but the guide at Olympia alleges that it is Killas. The figures in the front pediment are by Paionios of Mende in Thrace, and those in the back are by Alkamenes, a contemporary of Pheidias and second only to him in cleverness as a sculptor. What he carved in the pediment is the fight between the Lapiths and Centaurs at the wedding of Peirithoos. In the center of the pediment is Peirithoos. On one side of him is Eurytion who has seized the woman who is Peirithoos' wife, and Kaineus protecting Peirithoos, and on the other is Theseus defending himself against the Centaurs with an axe. One Centaur has seized a maiden, the other a handsome boy. Alkamenes carved this scene, I think, because he had learned from Homer's poems that Peirithoos was a descendant of Zeus and Theseus a great-grandson of Pelops.

Most of the Labors of Herakles are also represented at Olympia. Above the temple doors is the hunt of the Arcadian boar, his exploit against Diomedes the Thracian, and that against Geryon at Erytheia; he is also about to receive the burden from Atlas, and he is cleansing the land of dung for the Eleans. Above the doors of the rear chamber he is taking the girdle from the Amazon, and also represented there are the exploits against the deer, the bull at Knossos, the Stymphalian birds, the Hydra, and the Argive lion.

Pythagoras of Samos


Pliny places Pythagoras fourth in his selection of five bronze-casters, after Pheidias, Polykleitos, and Myron, and before Lysippos. This position, repeated in Pliny's chronology (T 1), clearly derives from "Xenokratic" art criticism (cf. T 43, T 62, T 124) and is complemented by Pausanias' considered praise for his work:

“Pythagoras of Rhegium in Italy surpassed Myron with his pancratiast which stands at Delphi, and Leontiscus too. He also made the runner Astylus, which is on show at Olympia, a Libyan [and a] boy holding a tablet there too, a nude figure holding apples, a lame man at Syracuse which makes people who look at it actually feel the pain of its sore, an Apollo shooting the Python with his arrows, and a cithara-player called dikaios ("honest") because when Alexander took Thebes [336] a sum of gold hidden in its drapery folds by a fugitive remained undisturbed. He was the first to represent sinews and veins, and was more exact in modeling hair. There was also another Pythagoras, a Samian, who began as a painter, whose seven nudes and an old man in the temple of Today's Fortune are praised. He is recorded to have resembled the other Pythagoras so closely that even their features were indistinguishable, and we are told that Sostratus was a son of this Pythagoras' sister but a pupil of Pythagoras of Rhegium.

Pliny, N.H. 34.59

“[At Olympia] there is a statue of Leontiskos, a wrestler in the men's category and a Sicilian from Messene on the Strait. He was crowned, they say, by the Amphiktyons and twice by the Eleans, and his wrestling style was that of Sostratos of Sikyon in the pankration: for they say that he did not know how to throw his opponents, but won by bending their fingers. The statue was made by Pythagoras of Rhegion — a good sculptor if ever there was one. They say he studied under Klearchos, who was also a native of Rhegion, and a pupil of Eucheir.

Now for the problems. First, Pliny, Pausanias, and Diogenes Laertius (T 42) all give his home as Rhegion, on the toe of Italy; yet when he signed the statue of Euthynos at Olympia (victor in 472), he called himself a Samian. Pliny and Diogenes compound the confusion by introducing a look-alike relative, Pythagoras of Samos, formerly a painter.

The solution to all this was suggested [almost] a century ago (cf. Münzer 1895, 520-21; Pollitt 1974, 91-92); namely, that Pythagoras migrated from Samos to Italy, perhaps in 494, but kept his original ethnic. Xenokrates either did not know of his Samian ancestry or preferred to cite his real (if adopted) home instead, but Antigonos of Karystos read his signature(s), recognized the problem, and conjured up the solution repeated in T 40 and 42. Pliny's omission of the Euthymos from his list of the Rhegian's works, even though he knew of the statue (N.H. 7.152), points in the same direction.

The second problem is chronological, and also traceable to Xenokrates. T 1 dates Polykleitos, Myron, and Pythagoras to 420-417, yet Pythagoras' statues of victors in the games of 480 through 452 clearly contradict this; one may be earlier (488 or 484), another later (464 or possibly 432: Moretti 1957, nos. 194, 257), but a floruit as late as 420 remains impossible, particularly if he studied with Klearchos [T 17].

Rather, Xenokrates' relative chronology (rendered absolute by Pliny's source for T 1) was perhaps based not upon historical evidence but upon purely formal considerations, namely the supposed development of Greek bronze work toward even greater naturalism (aletheia/veritas: cf. Pollitt 1974, 125-38 and commentary to T 3, 124) whereby Pythagoras' surface realism, experiments with violent motion (his Perseus: Dio Chrysostom 37.10), and suchlike would seem more "advanced" and thus closer to Lysippos' than the comparatively conservative and "stereotyped" (T 62) Polykleitan statues or even those of Myron.

Assembling all the evidence, his recorded works, all bronzes, are as follows:

    Victor statues
    • The wrestler Leontiskos of Messana, at Olympia (T 41, misunderstood by Pliny, T 40
    • The runner Astylos of Kroton, at Olympia (cf. T 40
    • The boxer Euthynos of Italian Locri, at Olympia
    • The pankratiast Dromeus of Mantinea, at Olympia
    • The hoplite runner Mnaseas of Kyrene, nicknamed Libys, at Olympia (cf. T 40
    • The charioteer Kratisthenes of Kyrene, his chariot, and Nike, at Olympia
    • The boy-boxer Protolaos of Mantinea, at Olympia
    • A pankratiast, at Delphi (T 40
    • The kithara-player Kleon, at Thebes (T 40
    Gods and heroes
    • Apollo shooting the dragon, perhaps at Kroton (T 40
    • A wounded man (Philoktetes?), at Syracuse (T 40
    • Seven nudes and an old man (the Seven against Thebes and Teiresias?), later at Rome (T 40) — cf.:
    • Eteokles and Polyneikes
    • Perseus
    • Europa on the Bull, at Taras
As to his style, the sources praise his accuracy of rendering (akribeia: no. 11, cf. T 40), his ability to evoke character through manipulating the schemata of his figures (no. 13), and his command of motion (no. 14); also:

“Some say there was another Pythagoras, a sculptor from Rhegion who seems to have been the first to aim at compositional rhythmos and commensurability of parts (symmetria); and another too, a Samian.

Diogenes Laertius 8.47
Though ostensibly "Xenokratic" in character and in the same biographical tradition as T 40, this passage now implicitly corrects the sequence of T 1 and T 40, and is more in accord with the "facts" as known today; though Diogenes cites no source, he used Antigonos' work extensively (cf. 9.49, etc.), suggesting that this is more than simply a rhetorical put-down of Pythagoras' three supposed "predecessors", once again lifted from Xenokrates.

A Philoktetes on some later gems has been connected with (11) and Krotonian coin-images with (10), but the most far-reaching study, Hofkes-Brukker 1964, is not based on these but upon some versions of an early classical Perseus (cf. 14, but attributed by others to Myron after T 43 and Paus. 1.23.7), concluding that he sought an "unbounded" rhythmos in place of the closure preferred by Polykleitos and Myron. Though pure conjecture, this does have the merit of explaining why the Xenokratic tradition saw him as a transitional figure between Myron and Lysippos.

Despite his fame, Pythagoras' only pupil seems to have been his nephew Sostratos (T 40).

Select bibliography: Overbeck 1868/1959, nos. 489-507; Löwy 1885/1976, nos. 23-4; Münzer 1895, 520-21, 525-26, 533-34; Stuart-Jones 1895/1966, 55-59; Jex-Blake 1896, xvi-xxii, lii-iii; Langlotz 1927,, 147-52; Schweitzer 1932/1963; ThB 27: 481-84 (Bieber, 1933); Picard 1935-1971, (vol. 2): (Picard/Manuel) 111-24; Lacroix 1949, 249-51; Lippold 1950, 124-26; RE 24: 305-08 (Rumpf, 1963); Hofkes-Brukker 1964; EAA 4: 573-75 (Orlandini, 1965); Lagona 1967; Richter 1970d, 156-58; Ridgway 1970, 83-48; Horster 1970; Hansen 1971, 402-03; Pollitt 1974, 21, 75, 91-92, 107-08, 125, 226-27, 351, 356; Holloway 1975; M. Robertson 1975, 184, 190, 197, 212; Gallet de Santerre 1983, 48-52, 58, 62, 71-72, 201, 226-29; Rolley 1983/1986, 157-59; Boardman 1985a, 79; E.B. Harrison 1985, 41; Mattusch 1988, 186-88; Pollitt 1990, 43-46; Stewart 1990, 21, 34, 82, 118, 132, 138-39, 160, 237-38, 254-56.

Myron of Eleutherai


Eleutherai was just inside Attica on the Boeotian border, which is why Pausanias (6.8.4, etc.) calls him an Athenian. Once again the only synoptic account of his oeuvre is Pliny's:

“Myron was born at Eleutherae and was a pupil of Hageladas. He was particularly famous for his statue of a heifer, celebrated in well-known epigrams — for most people owe their reputations more to someone else's talent than their own. He also made a dog, a discobolus, a Perseus and the sea-monsters (?), a satyr marveling at the flutes and a Minerva, pentathletes at Delphi, pancratiasts, and a Hercules now in the shrine dedicated by Pompey the Great at the Circus Maximus. Erinna also mentions in her poems that he made a cicada and a locust. He also made an Apollo which Antony the triumvir took from the Ephesians, but the deified Augustus restored it again after being warned in a dream. He seems to have been the first to extend the representation of natural truth, being more rhythmical in his art than Polykleitos and more careful over proportion (symmetria); yet though he was very attentive to the bodies of his figures he does not seem to have expressed the feelings of the mind, and also did not treat the hair and the pubes any more correctly than did the rude art of old.

Pliny, N.H. 34.57-8
Pliny places him third in the "Xenokratic" sequence of bronze-workers, between Polykleitos (T 62) and Pythagoras (T 40), and consequently the late Hellenistic source for T 1 gave him a floruit of 420-417; for an explanation as to why, see the commentary to T 40, above. Contradicted by (a) his supposed apprenticeship to Hageladas (T 25); (b) the "histories" of Cicero and Quintilian (T 2, T 3); (c) his Aeginetan commission (no. 1), presumably pre-dating the Athenian conquest of 457/6; and (d) the activities of his son Lykios in the 440s and 430s (Jeffery 1980b), this erroneous chronology also suggests that his allegedly greater attentiveness to symmetria than — of all people! — Polykleitos (T 43) could simply be a rationalization introduced by Xenokrates or Varro (cf. T 62) to save this evolutionary scheme, rigidly formalistic as it apparently was.

The full list of his works, all bronzes except possibly no. 1 (a xoanon , Paus. 2.30.2) is as follows:

    Divinities and mythological groups
    • Hekate (single-bodied) in Aegina
    • Colossal Zeus, Athena, and Herakles in the Heraion at Samos; removed by Mark Antony; the Athena and Herakles returned by Augustus
    • Apollo at Ephesos, removed by Antony but returned by Augustus (T 43
    • Apollo at Akragas, stolen by Verres in 73-70
    • Dionysos at Orchomenos, later RE-dedicated on Mt. Helikon by Sulla
    • Nike killing a bull
    • Athena and Marsyas (?T 43
    • Erechtheus at Athens
    • Herakles at Messana, stolen by Verres
    • Herakles, later in Rome (T 43
    • Perseus, on the Akropolis
    Victor statues
    • The runner Ladas, perhaps at Argos (T 45
    • A diskobolos (T 43, 44)
    • The horse breeder Lykinos of Sparta, at Olympia (twice)
    • The pankratiast Timanthes of Kleonai, at Olympia
    • The boy-boxer Philippos of Pellana, at Olympia
    • The hoplite-runner Chionis of Sparta, at Olympia
    • Pentathletes and pankratiasts, at Delphi (T 43
    • A dog (T 43
    • A cow, on the Akropolis (T 43), later taken to Rome
    • Four oxen, later in Rome
    • A sea-monster (?T 43: with no. 11?)
    • Embossed vessels in silver
The Diskobolos (no. 13; Rome, Terme 126371; Stewart 1990, fig. 300) is the only work identified beyond doubt in the copies, owing to a rare detailed description of one allegedly displayed with the Tyrannicides, Polykleitos's Diadoumenos, and Demetrios' Pellichos (Stewart 1990, figs. 227-31; 383-85; T 91, with commentary) in a house in Athens:

“"When you came in the hall," he said, "didn't you notice a totally gorgeous statue up there, by Demetrios the portraitist?" "Surely you don't mean the discus-thrower," said I, "the one bent over into the throwing-position, with his head turned back to the hand that holds the discus, and the opposite knee slightly flexed, like one who will spring up again after the throw?" "Not that one, he said, that's one of Myron's works, that Diskobolos you speak of..."

Lucian, Philopseudes 18
On the Athena and Marsyas, often identified as a group after Paus. 1.24.1, see Stewart 1990, 147, figs. 290-91, and the copy Louvre 2208; as for the others, optimists have recognized nos. 2, 8, 10, and 11 in Roman copies (though the Perseus is just as regularly given to Pythagoras), while Mingazzini 1972-3 and others attribute nos. 12 and 16 to namesakes of the Hellenistic period (contra e.g. Moretti 1957, nos. 260, 319, 529, 535). These individuals are shadowy figures at best: one, the Myron "of Thebes" whose signatures graced a dedication at Pergamon (along with Praxiteles' and Xenokrates': Pergamon, 8.1, nos. 135-140) and another found in Rome may well be a Hellenistic fiction perpetuated by locals charged with furnishing new bases for war-booty, for Eleutherai was disputed between Athens and Boeotia. Certainly, the epigrams describing the Ladas are by no means incompatible with early classical experimentation:

“Just as you were in life, Ladas, flying before wind-footed
Thymos, touching the ground with the tips of your toes,
So did Myron cast you in bronze, on all of your body
Stamping your expectation of an Olympian crown.

Anthologia Palatina 16.54
On the other hand, Pliny's attribution of a marble "Drunken old Woman" at Smyrna (N.H. 36.32) has been universally rejected, not least because its most unclassical theme recurs in a copy of a work of advanced Hellenistic date, in Rome (Munich 437; Bieber 1961b, 81; Laubscher 1982, 118-21; Stewart 1990, figs. 753-54). To connect this with the Myron of Athens who worked on Delos ca. 140 (Marcadé 1957, 57) is tempting but purely arbitrary.

Many have pondered over Myron's signal contribution to Greek sculpture; yet one must remember that in antiquity, though his statues of men were justly renowned (T 115), his most famous work was not the Diskobolos but his cow (no. 20), whose realism inspired countless epigrams (T 43; Overbeck 1868/1959, nos. 550-591, etc.), mostly vacuous in the extreme. His son Lykios carried on his work, also gaining major commissions at Olympia and Athens.

Select bibliography:

(A) General: Furtwängler 1895/1964, 165-220; ThB 25: 310-14 (Bieber, 1931); RE, 16.1: 1124-30 (Lippold, 1933); Picard 1935-1971, (vol. 2): (Picard/Manuel) 223-57; P.E. Arias 1940; Lacroix 1949, 251-54; Lippold 1950, 136-41; EWA, 10: 445-8 (Willemsen, 1958); EAA 5: 110-115 (Arias, 1963); Boardman 1967, 363-66; Richter 1970d, 160-65; Ridgway 1970, 84-86; M. Robertson 1975, 338-44; Boardman 1985a, 80; Mattusch 1988, 144-50; Stewart 1990, 28, 48, 69, 81-82, 113, 147-49, 237-38, 255-56.

(B) Sources: Overbeck 1868/1959, nos. 533-610; Löwy 1885/1976, nos. 126, 154; Stuart-Jones 1895/1966, 64-70; Schweitzer 1932/1963; Pollitt 1974, passim; Gallet de Santerre 1983, 49-51, 60-61, 71, 201, 223-26; Pollitt 1990, 48-52.

(C) Special studies: Boardman 1956 (Marsyas); Brommer 1967, 75-76 (Parthenon); Berger 1969, Berger 1970a (Samos group); Ashmole 1972, 104 (Parthenon); Mingazzini 1972-3 (Ladas); Schauenburg 1973 (Athena); Borbein 1973, 62-63, 147-50 (Samos group, Diskobolos); Vierneisel-Schlorb 1979, 121-24 (Samos group); Weis 1979 (Marsyas); Daltrop 1980 (Marsyas); Haskell 1981, 199-202 (Diskobolos).

Pheidias Son of Charmides of Athens


Though certainly the most renowned of Greek sculptors in antiquity, Pheidias remains an enigma. Not only are key dates in his career a matter of serious dispute, but with the disappearance of his great cult statues, the uncertainty over his contribution to the Parthenon marbles, and the difficulty of separating "authentic" copies from the multitude of derivations, his personal legacy to Greek sculpture becomes a tricky issue indeed.

As to chronology, his floruit in 448-445 (T 1), if not completely arbitrary, should celebrate either the dedication or the commissioning of one of his major works at Athens. The obvious candidates are either the Athena Parthenos, begun in 447/6 (IG, 1(3): nos. 453-60) and finished in 438/7 (T 48), or the Athena Promachos, which must predate the Parthenos, but by how much is not clear, since the nine years of accounts attributed to it (IG, 1(3): no. 435) are themselves not dated. At the very least, though, they project his career back to ca. 460, perhaps earlier if the Promachos celebrated Kimon's defeat of the Persians at the Eurymedon in 467 or the peace of Kallias in ca. 465 (Walsh 1981; Plut. Per. 17). His Marathon group at Delphi, which celebrated Kimon's disgraced father Miltiades (Paus. 10.10.1) was probably made around this time, at least before Kimon's ostracism in 461, or just possibly upon his brief come-back in 451-449. At any rate it is generally agreed that Pheidias began work around 470, or maybe even earlier if his teachers really were Hegias (T 3) and Hageladas (T 25) as the ancients believed; cf. also Raubitschek 1949, 27. According to Pliny, N.H. 35.54, he was originally a painter.

The only other absolute date in his career is his trial, variously placed between 438/7 and 433/2. The earliest "evidence" of wrongdoing is from a comedy presented in 422/1:

“Pheidias began it all, he's the first offender,
Then Perikles, scared to death he'd share his fate,
Dreading your temper and your backbiting ways,
Realized he might take the rap, so set the town on fire.
With one teensy spark, the anti-Megara Decree,
He started such a fight that every eye in Greece
Was smarting with the smoke... and Peace: she disappeared!

Later historians, hungry for facts, turned this supposed chain of events into "history": thus Ephoros (FGH 70 F 196: ca. 350), Diodoros 12.39 (Diod. 12.39), and especially Plutarch:

“(13.4) Perikles' general manager and overseer was Pheidias, though the several works had great architects and artists besides. The Parthenon, for instance, ... was built by Kallikrates and Iktinos ... but it was Pheidias who produced the great golden image of the goddess, and he is acknowledged as its artist on the stele. Almost everything was under his supervision, and he was overseer of all the other artists, owing to his friendship with Perikles. This brought envy upon the one and slander against the other, to the effect that Pheidias was in the habit of procuring free-born women for Perikles when they came to see the building site. The comic poets took up this story and began a smear campaign...

(13.31) But the worst charge of all, and yet the one best supported by evidence, was the following: Pheidias the sculptor was contractor for the great statue, as I have said, and being a friend of Perikles and having great influence with him, made on that account a number of jealous enemies. Others, too, decided to use him to test the people, in order to see what the popular judgment would be in a case involving Perikles. They therefore persuaded one Menon, an assistant of Pheidias, to sit in the agora as a suppliant and to ask for immunity in return for laying information and bringing a charge against Pheidias. The demos granted the man's plea, and a motion to prosecute was laid before the Assembly. Yet the charge of theft was not proven, because right from the very beginning, at Perikles' suggestion, the gold had been worked and fitted to the statue in such a way that it could all be taken off and weighed, and this was now what Perikles ordered the prosecutors to do.

But the fame of his works still aroused jealousy against Pheidias, especially since when he made the Amazonomachy on the shield he included both his own portrait among the reliefs, as a bald old man lifting a stone high with both hands, and a very handsome one of Perikles fighting an Amazon. And the position of Perikles' arm, which is holding a spear before his eyes, is cunningly contrived for the purpose of concealing the likeness — which is, however, perfectly plain from either side.

So Pheidias was led away to prison and there fell sick and died; some even say he was poisoned by Perikles' enemies in order to blacken Perikles still further. And as for the informer, Menon, a proposal was passed, on a motion of Glykon, to grant him immunity, and the generals were instructed to provide for his safety.

[32: cases for impiety are brought against Perikles' mistress, Aspasia, and friend Anaxagoras the philosopher, and he is impeached for embezzlement.] Since in the case of Pheidias he had fallen foul of the people, he feared the judgment of the court, and so kindled into flame the war that was threatening, hoping thereby to dissipate the charges against him ... These are the motives alleged for his refusal to allow the demos to give in to the Spartan demands: but the truth is not clear.

But Plutarch notes even here that "the truth is unclear", and elsewhere explicitly charges Aristophanes with slander (Moralia 856A). These successive indictments for both embezzlement and impiety (the portraits) are problematic indeed, for the decree protecting Menon would not have been passed had the embezzlement charge failed, and his death in jail after the impiety conviction is contradicted by the archaeological evidence dating his workshop at Olympia to the 430s (Mallwitz 1964) and by the Pantarkes anecdote (T 50); on the other hand, the lesser sentence of deprivation of civil rights (atimia) and exile should have precluded him from signing the Zeus as a citizen (T 50).

More to the point, perhaps, is that Aristophanes was writing comedy, not history, and that the whole concoction, put into the mouth of Hermes the trickster and paralleled by an equally implausible one on the Spartan side (620-27), in fact astounds Hermes' audience by its novelty (615-18). This is not surprising, for four years earlier Aristophanes had made trusty old Dikaiopolis offer quite another motive for the war, a burlesque on the tit-for-tat rapes preceding the Trojan war (cf. Herodotus 1.1-5), also accepted by the chorus with "true and right; he tells no lies at all" (Aristoph. Ach. 509-61).

Altogether more plausible is a scholiast's note to T 46:

“(First scholiast). Concerning the archonship of [The]odoros [438/7], Philochoros says: The gold image of Athena was set up in the great temple and the gold weighed 44 talents; Perikles was the supervisor, and Pheidias made it. And Pheidias, after he had finished, was tried for embezzlement of some of the ivory for the scales [i.e. of Athena's snake]. Fleeing to Elis, he is said to have contracted to make the image of Zeus at Olympia, and after he had made it, to have been put to death by the Eleans. In the archonship of [P]ythodoros, seven years later [432/1, counting inclusively as usual], he says concerning the Megarians ... [there follows discussion of the Megarian decrees, then the version of the story referred to under T 46].

(Second scholiast). But the suspicion against Perikles seems groundless, since the Pheidias affair occurred seven years before the war. Pheidias, as Philochoros says, worked on the image of Athena in the archonship of [The]odoros [438/7] and stole the gold from her chryselephantine statue, on account of which he was prosecuted and condemned to exile. When he was in Elis as contractor for the Olympian Zeus he was condemned by them and killed while in exile.

Scholium to Aristophanes, Peace 605 (Philochoros, FGH 328 F 121)
Now as in T 34 Philochoros is a source of a quite different order. Though the archon's names are garbled and the second scholiast's note has been contaminated by the tradition of T 47, the seven years' interval secures the chronology, dating the trial to 438/7, probably just after the statue's completion and dedication in summer 438, when the committee of overseers (epistatai) would have submitted their accounts. Suggestively, in IG I(3) 453-60 the gold is always meticulously weighed whereas the ivory is only listed according to its price.

Fleeing to Elis, Pheidias (whose wealth was soon legendary: Plat. Meno 91D) then made the Zeus, which was promptly imitated by Theokosmas at Megara (Paus. 1.40.4), though work on this latter statue stopped when war broke out in 431. The molds from the Olympia workshop (Stewart 1990, fig. 376), for a thrice-life-size female figure, found with Pheidias' inscribed mug and closely related to the copies from the shield of the Parthenos in style, suggest further commissions still. His Aphrodite Ourania and Athena for Elis (Paus. 6.25.1, 6.26.3) come to mind, though there are obstacles: the copies now attributed to the Ourania (E.B. Harrison 1984) are quite uniformly life-size, while Pliny, N.H. 35.54 gives the Athena to his pupil Kolotes. The date and circumstances of his death are equally unclear (cf. T 48), though some argue that his supposed condemnation by the Eleans was what prompted Aristophanes' remarks in the first place.

As for the presumed portraits of him and Perikles on the shield (T 47; London 302; Stewart 1990, fig. 366), Preisshofen 1974b has shown that the seven mentions of one or other of these, and an eighth that substitutes Daidalos (Ampelius 8.10) emanate from a Hellenistic tradition of marvel literature that sought to explain the unusual iconography of the two Athenians nearest the spectator, even inventing a miraculous mechanism that would destroy the entire composition if the presumed "portraits" were removed. These fantasies appear to have even stimulated someone to create a Pheidias type in the round, represented today by a marble head (a copy) in Copenhagen, a superb Hellenistic (Alexandrian?) statuette in New York, and some later gems.

Pheidias' recorded works, in an extraordinary variety of techniques, are as follows (asterisks indicate late and/or unreliable sources):

    • Zeus at Olympia, in chryselephantine; later in Constantinople (T 49-54, 128
    • Zeus, later in Constantinople, in marble
    • Hera
    • Athena Parthenos on the Akropolis, in chryselephantine (T 46-8, 55-6
    • "Small" Parthenos on the Akropolis
    • Athena Promachos on the Akropolis, in bronze
    • Athena Lemnia on the Akropolis, in bronze (T 57-9
    • Athena, in competition with another by Alkamenes
    • Athena Areia at Plataia, gilded akrolith
    • Athena Areia at Pellene (Achaia), in chryselephantine
    • Athena in bronze, perhaps also from Pellene, taken to Rome by Aemilius Paullus in 168/7
    • Aphrodite Ourania at Athens, in Parian marble
    • Aphrodite Ourania at Elis, in chryselephantine
    • Aphrodite in marble, later in Rome
    • Apollo Parnopios on the Akropolis, in marble
    • Hermes Pronaos at Thebes, in marble
    Heroes and groups
    • Miltiades, Athena, Apollo, the Eponymous heroes, Kodros, Theseus, and Philaios, at Delphi, in bronze
    • Herakles removing dung from the Augeian stables
    • Youth binding his hair (Anadoumenos) at Olympia, probably in bronze
    • Amazon leaning on her spear at Ephesos, in bronze (T 60
    • Two draped bronzes, later in Rome
    • A nude in bronze, later in Rome
    • Various miniatures in bronze and silver
    • Nemesis at Rhamnous (actually by Agorakritos, T 76-8
    • Mother of the Gods, in the Metroon at Athens (ditto)
    • Athena at Elis (also given to Kolotes)
    • Asklepios at Epidauros (actually by Thrasymedes, T 89
    • Zeus and Apollo at Patara in Lykia (probably by Bryaxis)
    • Kairos (by Lysippos, cf. T 127
    • Bronze ox, later in the Forum Pacis at Rome (also given to Lysippos)
    • Dioskouros in marble on Monte Cavallo, Rome (Roman; the other signed "Praxiteles")
Of these it was the Zeus (no. 1) that secured Pheidias' reputation in antiquity (cf. T 115), and which inspired a vast literature, passing from straightforward description (T 49, 50) through controlled religious awe (T 3, 52) to lyrical encomium (e.g. Dio Chrysostomos 12, passim); in particular, it not only became the paradigm for neoclassical sculptors, but helped to stimulate the so-called "phantasia -theory" of art criticism (T 53, 54).

“The greatest [of the offerings in the temple of Zeus] was the xoanon of Zeus made by Pheidias of Athens, son of Charmides. Made of ivory, it was so big that, although the temple itself was very large, the artist seems to have failed to hit the right proportions; for although the god is represented as seated, he almost touches the peak of the roof, and so gives the impression that if he stood up he would unroof the temple. Some have recorded the measurements of the xoanon , and Kallimachos wrote an iambic poem about them. Panainos the painter, Pheidias' nephew and co-worker, helped him greatly in embellishing the statue with colors, especially the drapery. And many wonderful paintings of his are on display round the temple. It is said that when Panainos asked Pheidias what model he was going to use for the image of Zeus, he replied that it was the model Homer provided in the following lines:

He spoke, the son of Kronos, and nodded his dark brow,
And the ambrosial locks of the great god swept down
From his immortal head, and all Olympos quaked.

“(10) The image was made by Pheidias, as is witnessed by an inscription written under the feet of Zeus: Pheidias son of Charmides, an Athenian, made me. (11) The god sits on a throne made of gold and ivory. On his head lies a garland in the form of olive shoots. In his right hand he holds a Nike of ivory and gold as well, which carries a fillet and wears a garland on her head. In the god's left hand is a scepter made of all kinds of metal, and an eagle perches on top of it. The god's shoes and cloak are of gold. On the cloak are inlaid figures and lily-flowers.

The throne is rich with gold and jewels, and ebony and ivory too; and upon it there are painted figures and sculptured images. Four Nikai in a dancing pose are represented on each leg of the throne, and two more at the foot of each leg. On each of the two front feet are Theban children seized by sphinxes, and under the sphinxes Apollo and Artemis are shooting down Niobe's children. Between the feet of the throne are four bars, each stretching from foot to foot. The bar right opposite the entrance has seven sculptured images: the eighth has disappeared, but they know not how... They say that the youth binding a fillet on his head resembles Pantarkes, an Elean boy who Pheidias loved. Pantarkes won a victory in the boys' wrestling contest during the 86th Olympiad [436]. On the other bars there is the company that fought with Herakles against the Amazons. Taking both sides together the figures number 29 in all, and Theseus too is lined up among the allies of Herakles.

The throne is supported not merely by its legs, but by columns which stand between the legs and equal them in size. One cannot go under the throne as one can at Amyklai. At Olympia there are screens built like walls to keep people out. Of these screens the section opposite the door is glazed with blue enamel, but the rest have paintings by Panainos. Among them is Atlas holding up heaven and earth, with Herakles standing by ready to take the weight, and also Theseus and Peirithoos, Hellas and Salamis (who holds in her hand an ornament for a ship's prow), and from the Labors of Herakles there is the battle with the Nemean lion, followed by the outrage against Kassandra committed by Ajax, Hippodameia the daughter of Oinomaos with her mother, and Prometheus, still chained up even though Herakles has climbed up to him.... Finally there is a picture of Penthesilea dying as Achilles holds her in his arms. There are also two Hesperides who carry the apples entrusted to them for safety. This Panainos was a brother of Pheidias, and painted the Battle of Marathon in the Painted Stoa at Athens.

On the uppermost part of the throne, above the head of the image, Pheidias has placed three Graces on one side, three Seasons on the other. These are included among the daughters of Zeus in the epics: in the Iliad, for example, Homer says that they were entrusted with the sky like guards at a king's court [5.749ff]. The footstool of Zeus ... has golden lions and, in relief, the battle of Theseus with the Amazons, the first heroic deed of the Athenians against non-Greeks.

On the base which supports the throne and Zeus with all his adornment, there are works of gold: Helios mounted on his chariot, Zeus and Hera, [Hephaistos] and next to him Charis. After her comes Hermes, and after Hermes, Hestia; after Hestia is Eros receiving Aphrodite as she rises from the sea; Persuasion is crowning Aphrodite. Also represented there are Apollo with Artemis, and Athena and Herakles; and near the end of the base, Amphitrite and Poseidon, and Selene riding what looks to be a horse. Some call it a mule, not a horse, and tell a silly story about the mule. I know that the height and breadth of the Zeus at Olympia have been measured and recorded, but I will not praise those who made the measurements, for they fall far short of the impression made by the sight of the image ....

All the floor in front of the image has been paved not with white but with black tiles. A raised rim of Parian marble runs around the border of the black stone, to keep in the olive oil that is poured out. For olive oil is beneficial to the image at Olympia, and it is olive oil which keeps the ivory from being harmed by the marshiness of the Altis. On the Athenian Akropolis it is water, not olive oil, which benefits the so-called Parthenos. For the Akropolis is extremely dry owing to its excessive height, so that the image, being made of ivory, yearns for the dampness it brings.

“I pitied myself for being no better than the great colossi that Pheidias or Myron or Praxiteles made, each of which outwardly is a beautiful Poseidon or a Zeus made of ivory and gold, with a thunderbolt or a flash of lightning or a trident in his right hand, but if you stoop down and look inside, you'll see a tangle of bars and struts and nails driven right through, and beams and wedges and pitch and clay, and a quantity of such ugly stuff housed inside, not to mention the legions of mice and rats that hold court there.

Lucian, Gallus 24

“L. Aemilius [Paullus, the conqueror of Macedonia in 166] visited the temple in Olympia, and when he saw the statue of Zeus he was awestruck , and said simply that Pheidias seemed to him to have been the only artist who had made a likeness of Homer's Zeus; for he himself had come to Olympia with high expectations but the reality had far surpassed them.

Polybios 30.10.5-6

“I am of the firm opinion that nothing of any kind is so beautiful as to surpass in beauty the thing which it reproduces — like a mask copied from the face. That which cannot be perceived with the eyes, ears, or other senses we can, however, conceive in our minds through imagination. So in the case of the statues of Pheidias, the most perfect of their kind which we have ever seen, and in the case of the paintings I have named, we can, despite their beauty, visualize something even more beautiful. Surely that artist, when he created his Jupiter or Minerva, did not look at any person for use as a model, but rather in his own mind there resided a sort of extraordinary apparition of beauty; concentrating on it and intuiting its nature, he directed his art and his hand towards producing a likeness of it.

Cicero, Orator 2.9

“"Your artists like Pheidias," he [Thespesion] said, "and like Praxiteles, after going up to heaven and making copies of the forms of the gods, did they then represent them by art, or was there something else which stood by them as they worked?" "There was indeed," Apollonios replied, "something full of wisdom." "What is that? said the other, for certainly you would not say it was anything but mimesis ." "Imagination (phantasia) made them," Apollonios answered, a far wiser artist than mimesis ; for mimesis will represent only what the eyes can see, but imagination will represent what they cannot... When you entertain a notion of Zeus you must, I suppose, envisage him along with heaven and seasons and stars, as Pheidias tried to do."

Philostratos, Life of Apollonios of Tyana 6.19
A truly "cosmic" image of the supreme god's limitless power to accomplish good and punish hybris, the Zeus was too large and complex to copy entire: T 50, a big red-figure krater of ca. 400 in Leningrad, and Hadrianic coins of Elis are our only guides (Stewart 1990, figs. 372-75). Yet as with the Parthenos, the subsidiary figures were copied, though far less frequently: the Niobids (certified by the krater as being on the side-bars of the throne) and perhaps the Birth of Aphrodite on Neo-Attic and other reliefs, and the sphinxes and kneeling Nikai near the throne-legs (shown on the coins) in versions in the round. Eventually taken to Constantinople, it was burnt in the Lauseion fire of A.D. 476 (T 128).

By contrast, we have a host of replicas of the Parthenos (no. 4: cf. Stewart 1990, figs. 361-71); these have inspired numerous restorations, including a small-scale model in Toronto (Leipen 1971) and a full-size version in Nashville. The pseudo-portraits apart (T 47; Stewart 1990, fig. 366), the crucial sources are Philochoros (T 48) and the following:

“(24) As to the temple they call the Parthenon, all the figures in the gable over the front entrance relate to the Birth of Athena, while in the rear gable is the strife between Poseidon and Athena for the country. The statue itself is made of ivory and gold. In the middle of her helmet is placed an image of the Sphinx... and on either side of it are griffins in relief. Aristeas of Prokonnesos says in his poem that these griffins fight for the gold of the Arimaspians who live beyond the Issedones, and that the gold which the griffins guard comes out of the earth. The Arimaspians are men all born with one eye, and griffins are beasts like lions but have the wings and beaks of eagles. So much for griffins.

The statue of Athena stands upright, dressed in a full-length chiton, and on her breast a head of Medusa is represented in ivory. She carries a statue of Nike about 4 cubits [6 feet] high, and a spear in the other hand; a shield is placed by her feet, and near the shield is a serpent. This serpent would be Erichthonios. On the base of the image is represented the Birth of Pandora in relief. Hesiod and others have told how this Pandora was the first woman.

(25) ...Lachares [tyrant, 295] took golden shields from the Akropolis, and even stripped the very statue of Athena of all embellishments that could be removed.

“That Phidias is the most famous sculptor among all peoples who appreciate the reputation of his Olympian Jupiter, nobody doubts, but in order that even those who have not seen his works may know that he is justly praised, I will offer some small pieces of evidence as to his ability. To do this I will not appeal to the beauty of his Olympian Jupiter, nor to the size of his Minerva at Athens, even though she is 26 cubits [39 feet] high and made of ivory and gold. Rather, I shall use the battle of the Amazons which he embossed on the convex side of her shield, the fights between the gods and the giants on its concave side, and those between the Lapiths and Centaurs on her sandals. So truly did every detail lend itself to his art. On the base is carved in relief what they call the Birth of Pandora, with twenty gods in attendance. Although the figure of Victory is marvelous, connoisseurs admire the serpent and the bronze sphinx just below the tip of her spear.

Pliny, N.H. 36.18
Other authors occasionally add more facts, such as that her eyes were of stone (Plat. Hipp. Maj. 290b), and the inscribed accounts, though too fragmentary to translate here, offer glimpses of the administrative process at work; T 48 seems to quote from another such official document, now lost. Finally, her later history is recounted not only by T 55 but also by Roman and Byzantine sources, though her eventual fate remains unclear.

Pheidias' other works are far more problematic. Sketchy coin images of the Promachos (Work no. 6) in situ have prompted several competing identifications, including the colossal Athena Medici, which certainly looks Pheidian but seems too advanced for a work planned ca. 460; the other candidates appear only in the minor arts. Furtwängler's identification of the Lemnia (Work no. 7) with two statues in Dresden and the Palagi head in Bologna (Furtwängler 1895/1964, 4-26; cf. Stewart 1990, figs. 313-14) was based upon gem-engravings and a combination of testimonia, particularly Pausanias' and Lucian's remarks on her beauty, and by their resemblance to a passage of Himerios:

“[On the Akropolis] there are also two other dedications, a statue of Perikles, son of Xanthippos, and the most worth seeing of the works of Pheidias, the statue of Athena called the Lemnian after those who dedicated it.

“(4) Lykinos: "Of all the works of Pheidias, which one do you praise most highly?"

Polystratos: "Which if not the Lemnia, on which he thought fit to inscribe his name? Or the Amazon leaning on her spear?


(6) From the Knidia the sculptor [of Panthea] will take only the head, ... allowing the hair, forehead, and that lovely brow-line to remain just as Praxiteles made them, and the liquid yet clear and winsome gaze of the eyes shall stay as Praxiteles conceived it. But he will take the curve of the cheeks and the fore part of the face from Alkamenes' [Aphrodite] in the Gardens, plus her hands, graceful wrists, and supple, tapering fingers. But the facial contour, its softness, and her well-proportioned nose will be supplied by the Lemnian Athena of Pheidias, who will also furnish the meeting of the lips and the neck, taken from the Amazon."

Lucian, Imagines 4 and 6

“Pheidias did not always make images of Zeus, nor did he always cast Athena armed into bronze, but turned his art to the other gods and adorned the Maiden's cheeks with a rosy blush, so that in place of her helmet this should cover the goddess's beauty.

Himerios, Oratio 68.4 (Colonna)
Against this, Hartswick 1983 has shown that the Palagi head (Rome 62.69; Stewart 1990, fig. 314) cannot have come from Dresden statue B, that the gems could be post-antique, and that the sources are impossibly vague; his further conclusions, that the head of Dresden A is alien and the entire Palagi type is Hadrianic are, however, unwarranted; cf. Palagia 1987. So while the type remains intact and looks Pheidian, Furtwängler's further hypotheses concerning its identity and date (451-448) remain unproven.

Of the other Athenas, (9) has also been associated with the Medici type despite an Akropolis relief showing a version beside Athena's olive tree there, and Paus. 7.27.2 reports a local tradition that (10) predated both it (9) and the Parthenos (4); yet it is suspicious that a remote Arkadian town should commission a chryselephantine Athena before the Parthenos had set the fashion.

As for the rest, E.B. Harrison 1984 challenges (12) and attributes the so-called "Sappho" type (given by Delivorrias 1978 and others to Kalamis) to (13), dating it to the 420s; the Apollo (15) is often identified with the Kassel type (Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Kassel A 51825; Stewart 1990, fig. 312). It is certainly closer to the Parthenon frieze than are the Riace bronzes (Reggio di Calabria, Riace A; Reggio di Calabria, Riace B; Stewart 1990, figs. 292-96), recently connected with the Marathon group (17), three of whose Eponymous heroes were evidently missing by the late second century A.D. (Paus. 10.10.1-2); Riace A's resemblance to the portrait of Anakreon (Richter 1965, 75-78, figs. 291-98) is often mentioned in support of this thesis, but since Paus. 1.25.1 fails to mention the author of the latter, this is no help. Completely different again from any of these male nudes is the Farnese Diadoumenos, regularly considered a copy of (19), but now persuasively identified as Roman neo-classic work after Polykleitos (Zanker 1974, 13-14).

Finally, the Amazon (20). While Lucian, Imagines 4 and 6 (T 58) tells us that she leant on her spear and praises the beauty of her features, Pliny alone records the tradition of the contest at Ephesos:

“After thus defining the periods of the most famous artists [T 1], I will rapidly run through the most renowned of these, then list the rest under various heads. The most celebrated, though born at different times, came into competition because they made Amazons. When these were dedicated in the temple of Diana at Ephesus, it was resolved to choose the most praiseworthy by vote of the artists themselves, who were present. Then it became evident that there was one which each artist judged second to his own: this was by Polyclitus, and next came that of Phidias, third Cresilas', fourth Cydon's, and fifth Phradmon's.

Pliny, N.H. 34.53
Among the copies, four Amazon types have regularly been associated with the contest: the Mattei (Rome, Museo Capitolino 733), quiver of Mattei type (Rome 75.2236), ancient cast of the girdle and adjacent area of the chiton of the Mattei type (Rome 78.1854), ancient cast of the right foot of the Mattei type (Baiae 174.531), Sosikles (Capitoline: Rome, Museo Capitolino 651; Louvre Ma 552), head of Sosikles type (Rome, Palazzo dei Conservatori 1091), Sciarra (a.k.a. Lansdowne: Vatican 2252; New York 32.11.4; Berlin 7), and Doria-Pamphili (Stewart 1990, figs. 388-96). As usual there is no consensus on who made which, though since only the Mattei actually leans on her spear, and the Sosikles conforms most strictly to the principles of Polykleitan contrapposto, many attribute these two types to Pheidias and Polykleitos respectively.

Others, however, have found Pliny's account incredible, not least because the voting procedure duplicates Herodotos' account of the Greek prize-giving after Salamis (8.123). Yet to the unprejudiced this might appear to support rather than undermine the tradition's claim to authenticity. Furthermore, the skeptics often forget that the contest has no bearing upon the fact of the dedication, which evidently came first, and which is independently corroborated by the appearance of two Amazon types on the Ephesian theater-reliefs, a replica of the Sosikles Amazon and a version of the same figure that wears a mantle over her chiton. (Compare Kanachos' Apollo at Didyma (Berlin 1592), which was also copied for the local theater: T 26-7 and commentary; Stewart 1990, fig. 167). Hartswick 1986 plausibly identifies the mantle-bearer as a personification of Ephesos itself, increasing the probability that its prototype, the Sosikles Amazon, indeed copies Polykleitos' statue, the winner of the contest.

As for the rest, while the statue in the Villa Doria Pamphili is probably only a classicizing variant of the Sciarra, two heads (the pendant to the Doryphoros herm in the Villa dei Papiri at Herculaneum and another from Hadrian's villa at Tivoli) apparently represent a genuine fifth type. Formerly assigned to the Mattei Amazon, this actually bears little resemblance to the (admittedly schematic) head of the Mattei-type figure on a Peloponnesian relief now in Athens; furthermore, first-hand examination of the head on a third Mattei-type replica, in Petworth, strongly suggests that it is original to that statue, not a restorer's addition, as Furtwängler and others believed. Not only does its coiffure resemble the relief figure's, but its elongated facial structure and emphatic features are strikingly close to both the Palagi "Lemnia" (Rome 62.69; cf. no. 6; Stewart 1990, fig. 314) and the Amazons on the Piraeus copies of the Parthenos shield (Piraeus Parthenos Shield; Stewart 1990, fig. 364), closer indeed than is the "Sappho"-Ourania (cf. Weber 1978, E.B. Harrison 1984; no. 13).

Though the Mattei type seems likely, then, to be Pheidian, and the Sosikles Polykleitan, to attribute the others is hazardous indeed. Kresilas of Kydonia in Crete (not necessarily identical with the "Ctesilaus" who "made a Doryphoros and a wounded Amazon": N.H. 34.75) is often given the Sciarra type, though his style is only known from the Perikles portrait (Ch. 6.3) if the copies we have indeed reproduce the statue noted by Pliny, N.H. 34.74 and Pausanias (T 57 — but omitting the sculptor). "Cydon" probably repeats Kresilas's own ethnic, a slip which may have eliminated another name (Strongylion, whose Amazon is praised by Pliny in N.H. 34.82?); while Phradmon of Argos is known for three other works, all lost (for one of them, see T 155).

The Sosikles, Mattei, and Sciarra Amazons are also represented among the Baiae plaster casts (Landwehr 1985, 60-76); significant departures in the handling of flesh and drapery show that, once again, faithfulness to the original took second place to the copyists' own notions of decor and the period style of their own time. This fact alone is sufficient to gainsay current attempts to reassign two or three of the types to the fourth, second, or even first centuries B.C. (e.g. Ridgway 1974; E.B. Harrison 1982b) on the basis of fairly minor stylistic discrepancies between the copies; indeed, even Pliny (T 60) was aware that though their careers overlapped, the five sculptors represented quite different stages in the development of the art.

As for ancient accounts of Pheidias' style, these either lapse into unhelpful generalities or are rhetorically conceived. So although he heads the "Xenokratic" list of five exemplary bronze workers in N.H. 34.53-65, Pliny says only that he "first opened up the art" (34.54) and nothing else; the rhetoricians are somewhat more enlightening, though concerned not with fact but impressions:

“I think one would not be wide of the mark in comparing the oratory of Isokrates to the art of Polykleitos and Pheidias for its august, dignified, and grand style, and that of Lysias to the art of Kalamis and Kallimachos for its lightness and grace.

Dionysios of Halikarnassos, Isokrates 3
By the later first century A.D. these observations, no doubt Hellenistic in origin, had been further refined in order to address the differences between Pheidias and Polykleitos: T 3. Yet another critical tradition is represented by the writers on phantasia , T 53-4: the two are bridged by Dio Chrysostomos' extraordinary 12th ("Olympic") oration on the Zeus, delivered from the temple porch in A.D. 97, which is too long to quote here. Finally, Pheidias plays a key role in ancient notions of the craftsman's status, as evidenced by authors from Isokrates (Isoc. 15. 2) to Lucian (The Dream 9).

So whereas Pheidias' standing as the greatest of Greek sculptors has not been seriously challenged since first advanced in antiquity, his personality remains elusive. His reputation was mainly based upon his extreme versatility, his technical virtuosity, and, above all, the magnificence of his cult statues (T 115); the conservative "Attic" stance of the Parthenos (Athena Parthenos reconstruction; and others? cf. the Medici and "Lemnian" Athenas, nos. 6, 7), with shoulders squared and one leg partially relaxed, was perhaps responsible not only for much of this "majesty" (T 3), but also for the inaugurative role given him in the "Xenokratic" canon, before the compositionally-innovative Polykleitos (T 62) and still more adventurous Myron (T 43). Yet the Amazon and Niobid reliefs show a quite different side of his art, daring, experimental, but still lucid as none other. Modern observers (e.g. Richter 1951, 7-14) often seem baffled by this seeming contradiction; perhaps, though, it is no contradiction at all, but merely a matter of supreme sensitivity to genre on the part of a sculptor whose address — and consequent appeal — was quite simply universal.

Select bibliography: (A) General: Furtwängler 1895/1964, 1-112; ThB 26: 541-6 (Bieber, 1933); RE 19.2: 1919-35 (Lippold, 1938); Picard 1935-1971 (vol. 2): (Picard/Manuel) 308-21; Lacroix 1949, 259-86; Lippold 1950, 141-57, 171-72; Becatti 1951; EWA 11: 277-87 (Becatti, 1958); EAA 3: 649-60 (Becatti, 1960); Boardman 1967, 355-60; Richter 1970d, 167-78, 254; M. Robertson 1975, 292-322, 333-38; Ridgway 1981, 161-71; Boardman 1985a, 203-04; Mattusch 1988, 166-72; Stewart 1990, 60-61, 150-60, 257-63, and index, s.v. 'Pheidias'.

(B) Sources: Overbeck 1868/1959, nos. 618-807, etc.; Stuart-Jones 1895/1966, 73-99; Jex-Blake 1896, xvi-xix, xlii-iii, etc; Schweitzer 1932/1963; Pollitt 1972, passim; Gallet de Santerre 1983, 45-6, 49-52, 64, 66, 70, 196, 214-17; Pollitt 1990, 53-65, 223-228.

(C) Perikles (and Anaxagoras): Schweitzer 1940, 170-191; 1941; Schauenburg 1962, 54; Boersma 1970, 65-81; Himmelmann 1977.

(D) Trial and exile: FGH 3b (Supplement) 1: 484-96 (1954); Frost 1964; Mallwitz 1964, 272-7; Donnay 1968b; Himmelmann 1977, 85-7; Triebel-Schubert 1983; Wesenberg 1985a.

(E) Zeus: Imhoof-Blumer 1887/1964, 71-2;Fink 1967; Mingazzini 1969/70; Richter 1970d, 117-18, 171-73; Vogelpohl 1980; Shefton 1982, 160-65.

(F) Parthenos: (i) General: Imhoof-Blumer 1887/1964, lxxiii-iv, 126-28; Schuchhardt 1963; Leipen 1971; Gernand 1975, 17-24; Brommer 1979b, 59-61; LIMC 1: 602-3, 642 (Devambez, 1981); C.C. Vermeule 1981 no. 29; E.B. Harrison 1982b, 53-65; Prag 1983; LIMC 2.1: 977-78, 1041-42 (Demargne, 1984), 1084-85 (Canciani, 1984); Boardman 1985a, 110-12.

(ii) Technique and accounts: Stevens 1955, Stevens 1957; Burford 1963; Donnay 1967a, Donnay 1968a; Richter 1970d, 117-18; Eddy 1977; Himmelmann 1977, 84-89.

(iii) Base: Schuchhardt 1975.

(iv) Shield and "portraits": Richter 1965, 150-51; Strocka 1967; Metzler 1971, 289-306; Preisshofen 1974b; Stephanidou-Tiberiou 1979; Frel 1981, 16-17; E.B. Harrison 1981;Himmelmann 1983, 76-85.

(G) Parthenon (attribution): Schweitzer 1938b, Schweitzer 1940; Himmelmann 1977; Brommer 1979b, 62-63, 68-69; Boardman 1985a, 109-10.

(H) Athenas: Imhoof-Blumer 1887/1964, 128-29; R.J.H. Jenkins 1947; Kluwe 1969; Despinis 1975; Linfert 1982; M. Price 1977, 76-77; Hartswick 1983; LIMC 2.1: 972 (Demargne, 1984), 1085 (Canciani, 1984); Palagia 1987; Mattusch 1988, 168-72 (Promachos).

(I) Other works and attributions: Imhoof-Blumer 1887/1964, 4-5, 91-92; Karouzou 1961 (Hermes); Schmidt 1966 (Kassel Apollo); Settis 1966 (Aphrodite Ourania); Richter 1965, 94-97; Gauer 1968a, 128-32 (Miltiades); Zanker 1974, 13-14 (Anadoumenos); Kron 1975, 215-27 (Marathon); W. Fuchs 1982 (Riace/Marathon); Brommer 1982, 146, 149 (Marathon); Knigge 1982; E.B. Harrison 1984 (Ourania).

(J) Amazons: Ridgway 1974; Devambez 1976; Weber 1976, Weber 1978; Dohrn 1979 (with full bibliography); Gauer 1980; LIMC 1: 625-26, 643 (Devambez, 1981); E.B. Harrison 1982b, 65-88; Raeder 1983, 77-78, 86-87, 92-93, 222-23, 225-26; Landwehr 1985, 60-76 nos. 29-41 (Baiae casts); Hartswick 1986.

(K) Descendants: Donnay 1967b; Mansfield 1985, 562-63.

Polykleitos of Argos


Polykleitos both signs as an Argive and is named as such by all except Pliny; here he is placed second (after Pheidias and before Myron) in the "Xenokratic" catalogue of leading bronze workers:

“Polyclitus of Sicyon, a pupil of Hageladas, made a "Diadoumenus", a supple youth, famous for having cost 100 talents, and a "Doryphorus", a virile-looking boy. He also made a statue that artists call the "Canon", and from which they derive the principles of their art, as if from a law of some kind, and he alone of men is deemed to have rendered art itself in a work of art. He also made a man scraping himself with a strigil, a nude stepping on a knucklebone, and two boys, also nude, playing with knuckle-bones; these are called the astragalizontes and are in the emperor Titus's atrium — a work which, some claim, has no rivals in perfection. He also made a Mercury that was once at Lysimachea, a Hercules now in Rome, a commander taking up arms, and Artemon, called the Man in the Litter. He is deemed to have perfected this science and to have refined the art of metalwork, just as Phidias had revealed its possibilities. It was strictly his invention to have his statues throw their weight onto one leg, though Varro says that they are foursquare and all virtually stereotyped.

Pliny, N.H. 34.55-6
The change of ethnic looks like a clear case of pro-Sikyonian bias from a time when Sikyon had largely usurped Argos's leading role in Peloponnesian bronze work, and in turn helps to confirm Xenokrates, an adherent of the Sikyonian school, as the ultimate source for Pliny's account, which culminates with Lysippos' own work in Chs. 61-5 (T 124).

Close reading reveals more inconsistencies. Supposedly (with Myron and Pheidias) a pupil of Hageladas (cf. T 25), he nevertheless seems to have worked almost to the century's end, if he really made the Argive Hera (T 63-4, 87, etc.) as antiquity unanimously believed: the old temple burned in 423 (Thuc. 4.133), the new was completed ca. 400 (Ch. 14.2). Noting that Pliny ignores this statue entirely while elsewhere recording a floruit (420-417: T 1) that neatly coincides with its presumed date, Ridgway (1981a, 201) and others have preferred to attribute this statue to Polykleitos II, apparently active ca. 405-350. Yet in T 87 Pausanias emphatically distinguishes the Hera's author from the younger Polykleitos, "pupil of Naukydes", and the whole problem vanishes if one accepts that Pliny drew T 1 and T 62 from different sources, and that Xenokrates was not interested in chryselephantine but bronze.

If the Hera, his only venture outside bronze, marks the climax of Polykleitos' work, his early career remains extremely problematic. Though Paus. 6.4.11 attributes a statue of the boy-boxer Kyniskos at Olympia to him, its base (datable epigraphically to ca. 470-450) is unsigned; Kyniskos triumphed either in 464 or 460 (Moretti 1957, no. 265, cf. 256), so if the attribution holds, this must be a very early work. The "Westmacott boy" in London (London 1754; Stewart 1990, figs. 386-87) seems to match the footprints on this base and could — just — be this early, though most now prefer to place it in the 420s or later; see also Berger 1978 for a completely different identification. Of the statues Pliny mentions, the Doryphoros (Naples, Museo Nazionale Archaeologico 6146) and Diadoumenos (Athens, NM 1826; Stewart 1990, figs. 378-85) are usually dated to the 440s and 420s, respectively, the Amazon (Rome, Museo Capitolino 651; T 60; Stewart 1990, fig. 388) to ca. 430.

All in all, a career lasting from the 450s to ca. 410 seems not incredible; he was probably dead or retired by 405, when Lysander commissioned his pupils to make his great victory monument at Delphi (T 85). One of them, Antiphanes, already belonged to the school's second generation (Paus. 5.17.3-4). Plato's note that his sons — both nonentities! — were youths in 433 and contemporaries of Perikles' children (Protagoras 328C; cf. Guthrie 1975, 214-15) may point the same way; the latter were apparently born before 450. At any rate, Donnay's decisively lower chronology (1965, 462: birth of Polykleitos ca. 460, activity ca. 435-395) seems untenable.

Excluding works attributable to his later namesake, Polykleitos' attested output (all bronzes except no. 1) is as follows:

    Gods and heroes
    • Hera in the Argive Heraion, in chryselephantine (T 63-4, 87
    • Hermes, later in Lysimacheia (T 62
    • Herakles, later in Rome (T 62
    • Herakles and the Hydra
    • Amazon at Ephesos (T 60
    • Doryphoros (Achilles?) (T 62
    • Diadoumenos (T 62
    • Apoxyomenos (T 62
    • The boy-boxer Kyniskos of Mantinea, at Olympia
    • The pentathlete Pythokles of Elis, at Olympia, later in Rome
    • Nude youth stepping on a knucklebone (Kairos?) (T 62
    • Two nude youths playing knucklebones (T 62
    • Commander taking up arms (Theseus?) (T 62
    • Two basket-bearers, stolen in Sicily by Verres in 73-70
    • Artemon (T 62
Pausanias describes the Heraion at length, while Strabo compares the Hera with Pheidias' chryselephantine work:

“They say the architect was Eupolemos, an Argive; concerning the sculptures carved above the columns, some refer to the birth of Zeus and the battle of the gods and giants, others to the Trojan War and the sack of Troy .... The statue of Hera sits on a throne and is huge; made of gold and ivory, it is the work of Polykleitos. She wears a crown with Graces and Seasons worked in relief, and in one hand carries a pomegranate, in the other a scepter. About the pomegranate I must say nothing, for its story may not be told, but concerning the cuckoo that sits on the scepter they say that Zeus, when he was in love with the virgin Hera, turned himself into this bird, and she caught it to be her pet. This and other similar tales about the gods I relate without believing them, but relate them nevertheless. By Hera's side stands what is said to be an image of Hebe, by Naukydes, of ivory and gold also, and by its side is an ancient image of Hera on a column. This, the oldest image of her, is made of wild pear-wood, and was dedicated at Tiryns by Peirasos son of Argos, but when the Argives destroyed Tiryns they carried it off to the Heraion; I saw it myself, a small, seated image.

“In this temple are xoana made by Polykleitos, in execution the most beautiful in the world, but in costliness and size inferior to those of Pheidias.

Indeed, unlike the Zeus, the Hera has left no secure copies at all. Though Dionysios of Halikarnassos (T 61) praises Pheidias and Polykleitos equally, that the judgment of T 64 was generally accepted in antiquity is shown by Quintilian's more sophisticated version of it in T 3, and by the vastly greater attention paid to the Zeus by Greek and Latin authors generally.

In fact, Polykleitos' statues of gods or agalmata were apparently as neglected by the copyists as were Pheidias' statues of mortals (andrianta; the special case of the Amazon apart), though this did not prevent occasional attempts to furnish his figures with divine attributes: cf. Fleischer 1978; Wrede 1981, 30, 276, 279. Clearly, in Roman eyes Pheidias the agalmatopoios and Polykleitos the andriantopoios (T 115) were each supreme in their own specialty, and that was that. The germ of this judgment is even recognizable in Aristotle:

“The term sophia is employed in the crafts to denote those men who are the most perfect masters of their craft, like Pheidias in stone-carving and Polykleitos in making statues of men (andriantopoia).

As for his other works, copies have been recognized of (3), (5)-(9), and (13), with varying degrees of plausibility; once again, Roman adaptations, lost attributes, and the stereotypical tendencies of the canon itself (T 62) confuse the issue for all but the Doryphoros (Naples, Museo Nazionale Archaeologico 6146) and Diadoumenos (Athens, NM 1826; Stewart 1990, figs. 378-85), though even their exact identities remain uncertain. Casts of the (Sosikles) Amazon, the Westmacott Boy (cf. 9), and perhaps the Doryphoros have been identified among the finds at Baiae: Landwehr 1985, 70-76, 94-100, 177; Stewart 1990, fig. 387. As for the rest, (11) and (12) are problematic, not least because Pliny's meaning is unclear (cf. Berger 1978), while (13) may be Theseus finding the tokens or gnorismata left under a rock at Troezen. No. 14 looks suspiciously like law-court hyperbole (Cicero, In Verrem 4.3.5; in the same local private collection with works supposedly by Myron and Praxiteles!); perhaps all three were high-class copies. Finally, (15) may be Perikles' engineer Artemon; decidedly alien to the rest of Polykleitos' oeuvre, it too remains a puzzle.

The canon itself — surely identical with the Doryphoros (cf. esp. Linfert 1982, 60 n. 22) — has inspired many attempts at reconstruction, some of which are critiqued in Stewart 1978b. Ironically, the most original and (to my mind) convincing attempt is still unpublished (Leftwich 1987), so is almost completely unknown to the scholarly community at large. Adducing nine hitherto-overlooked citations of the canon in Galen, Leftwich shows both that it was probably based upon recent advances in medicine and science: the contemporary Hippokratic principle of isonomia or 'equilibrium', and the ratios established by Pythagoras for the perfect intervals of the musical scale (so Stewart 1978b, 130-31), namely, 1:2 (octave), 2:3 (fifth), and 3:4 (fourth).

The following are the major texts:

“Many, though, have begun the construction of weapons of the same size, and have made use of the same system of rules, the same types of wood, and the same amounts of iron, and have kept to the same weight, yet of these some have made machines that throw their missiles far and with great force, while those made by others have lagged behind their specifications. When asked why this happened, the latter have been at a loss for an answer. So it is appropriate to warn the prospective engineer of the saying of Polykleitos the sculptor: perfection, he said, comes about little by little [para mikron] through many numbers. And in the same way, as far as concerns our science, it happens that in many of the items that go to make up the machine a tiny deviation is made each time, resulting in a large cumulative error.

Philo Mechanicus 4.1, 49.20

“(86a) But those who are making progress, of whose life already, as of some temple or regal palace, "the golden foundation has been wrought," do not indiscriminately accept any action, but using reason to guide them they bring each one into place and fit it where it belongs. And we may well conceive that Polykleitos had this in mind when he said that the task is hardest for those whose clay has come to the fingernail.

(636B-C) And in the arts, formless and shapeless parts are fashioned first, then afterwards all details in the figures are correctly articulated; it is for this reason that the sculptor Polykleitos said that the work is hardest, when the clay is at [or on] the fingernail.

Plutarch, Moralia 86A, 636B-C

“Modellers and painters and sculptors, indeed image-makers in general paint or model the most beautiful figures, such as the most comely man, horse, ox, or lion, by observing in each case what is the mean within each genus. And one might commend a certain statue, the one called the "Canon" of Polykleitos, which got its name because it had a precise commensurability (symmetria) of all the parts to one another.

Galen, De Temperamentis (p. 566.14 Kuhn)

“Beauty, Chrysippos believes, inheres not in the commensurability (symmetria) of the constituent elements of the body, but in the commensurability of the parts, such as that of finger to finger, and all these to the palm and wrist, and of these to the forearm, and of the forearm to the upper arm, and of everything to everything else, just as it is written in the "Canon" of Polykleitos. For having taught us in that treatise all the commensurate proportions of the body, Polykleitos made a work to support his account; he made a statue according to the tenets of his writing, and called it, like the treatise, the "Canon".

Galen, De Placitis Hippocratis et Platonis 5 (p. 3.16 Kuhn)

“When the most renowned sculptors and painters wanted to carve or paint figures that were the most beautiful possible, they never fell into the error of taking some [fat eunuch like] Bagoas or Megabyzus as a model, but rightly selected the well-known Doryphorus, suitable both for war or athletics ...

Quintilian 5.12.21
The translation of para mikron in T 66, which has provoked much controversy, is secured by a hitherto unnoticed parallel in Diogenes Laertius 7.26. Because of its striking similarity to these texts, the following passage has also been plausibly associated with the Canon:

“Now in every piece of work, beauty is brought to perfection through many numbers that come to a congruence (kairos), so to speak, guided by some system of commensurability (symmetria) and harmony, whereas ugliness is immediately ready to spring into being if only a single chance element be omitted or added out of place; so it is with listening to lectures...

Plutarch, Moralia 45C
The range of T 65-71, encompassing six centuries, five literary genres, and two cultures, is revealing: like that of Pheidias, Polykleitos's achievement swiftly entered the consciousness of both the literary élite and its wider audience, becoming a handy simile, even a cliché, to be deployed as appropriate. And also like Pheidias, he appears constantly in ancient discussions of the artist's status, from T 65 to Lucian's Dream. For as Pliny aptly noted, "he alone of men is deemed to have rendered art itself in a work of art" (T 62).

Select bibliography:

(A) General: Furtwängler 1895/1964, 223-92; ThB 27: 225-29 (Bieber, 1933); Picard 1935-1971 (vol. 2): (Picard/Manuel) 257-307; Lacroix 1949, 254-58; Lippold 1950, 162-69; RE 21.2: 1707-18 (Lippold, 1952); EWA 9: 423-24 (Berger, 1958); P.E. Arias 1964; Donnay 1965; EAA 6: 266-74 (Beschi, 1965); Boardman 1967, 366-70; Richter 1970d, 189-96; Lorenz 1972; Zanker 1974; M. Robertson 1975, 328-39; Ridgway 1981, 201-6; Wrede 1981; Borbein 1982; Rolley 1983/1986, 161-63; Boardman 1985a, 205-06; Mattusch 1988, 162-66; Beck 1990; Stewart 1990, 160-163, 3238-39, 263-66, and index, s.v. 'Polykleitos'.

(B) Sources: Overbeck 1868/1959, nos. 929-977; Löwy 1885/1976 nos. 50, 90-92; Stuart-Jones 1895/1966, 124-131; Jex-Blake 1896, xvi-xxii, li-lii, lxviii, etc; Schweitzer 1932/1963; Jucker 1950, 118-40; Pollitt, 88-92; Pollitt 1974, passim; Gallet de Santerre 1983, 49-52, 54-5, 59, 70-1, 200, 217-223; Beck 1990, 48-78 (N. Kaiser); Pollitt 1990, 75-79, 222-23.

(C) The Canon/Doryphoros: Schulz 1955; Carpenter 1971, 100-108; Steuben 1973; Philipp 1975; Tobin 1975; Stewart 1978b; Landwehr 1985, 177 (casts?); Leftwich 1987; Beck 1990, 135-98 (Philipp, Berger, von Steuben); Kreikenbom 1990.

(D) Other works and attributions: Berger 1978; Fleischer 1978; Vierneisel-Schlorb 1979, 71-7, 188-95; Landwehr 1985, 70-76 nos. 40-41 (Sosikles Amazon casts) 94-100 nos. 59-62 (Westmacott casts); Hartswick 1986 (Amazon); Beck 1990, 111-20, 199-239 (P. and R. Bol)(Diskophoros, Hermes, Herakles, Diadoumenos, Amazon); Kreikenbom 1990 (Diskophoros, Hermes, Herakles, Diadoumenos).

hide References (33 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (33):
    • Aristophanes, Peace, 605
    • Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 1141a
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 12.39
    • Isocrates, Antidosis, 2
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10.10.1
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.23.7
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.24.1
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.24.5
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.25.1
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.28.2
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.40.4
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 2.17
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 2.30.2
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 5.10.2
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 5.17.3
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 5.25.12
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 5.25.8
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 6.12.1
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 6.25.1
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 6.4.11
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 6.4.3
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 6.4.5
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 7.27.2
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 8.42.1
    • Plato, Meno, 91d
    • Plato, Greater Hippias, 290b
    • Strabo, Geography, 8.3.30
    • Thucydides, Histories, 4.133
    • Aristophanes, Acharnians, 509
    • Cicero, Against Verres, 2.4.5
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 34.19
    • Plutarch, Pericles, 13.4
    • Plutarch, Pericles, 17
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