terra-cottas, which exhibited various ornamental
designs, and were used in [p. 1.126]
architecture to cover
the frieze (zophorus
) or the cornice of a roof.
Their proper place was thus under the eaves (sub
Fest. s. v.) and on the sheltered entablature; and
there is no occasion for Müller's conjecture super stilicidio.
But they must also have sometimes stood
clear of the roof, as in the case mentioned by Livy (26.23
), when a statue of Victory,
falling de culmine,
i.e. apparently from the
was caught by other Victories
which were in antefixis.
[ACROTERIA.] Etymologically the name might have been applied to any
ornaments attached to the fronts of buildings; but in practice it seems to
have been limited to those of baked clay (figulinum
terra-cottas do not appear to have been used among the Greeks, but were
probably Etrurian in their origin, and were thence taken for the decoration
of Roman buildings.
Of the great variety and exquisite beauty of the workmanship, the reader may
best form an idea by inspecting the collection of them in the British
The two imperfect antefixa, here represented, are among those found at
Velletri, and described by Carloni. (Roma,
The first of them must have formed part of the upper border of the frieze, or
rather of the cornice. It contains a panther's head, designed to serve as a
spout for the rain-water to pass through in descending from the roof.
Similar antefixa, but with comic masks instead of animals' heads, adorned
the temple of Isis at Pompeii. For additional examples of ornamental
water-spouts or gargoyles, see TEGULA
The second of the above specimens represents two men who have
a dispute, and who come before the sceptre-bearing kings, or judges, to have
their cause decided. The style of this bas-relief indicates its high
antiquity, and, at the same time, proves that the Volsci had attained to
considerable taste in their architecture. Their antefixa are remarkable for
being painted: the ground of that here represented is blue ; the hair of the
six men is black, or brown; their flesh red; their garments white, yellow,
and red: the chairs are white. The two holes may be observed, by which this
slab was fixed upon the building.
Cato the Censor complained that the Romans of his time began to despise
ornaments of this description, and to prefer the marble friezes of Athens
and Corinth. (Liv. 34.4
.) The rising taste which
Cato deplored may account for the superior beauty of the antefixa preserved
in the British Museum, which were discovered at Rome. A specimen of them is
given in the third illustration. It represents Athena superintending the
construction of the ship Argo. The man with the hammer and chisel is Argus,
who built the vessel under her direction. The
pilot Tiphys is assisted by her in attaching the sail to the yard.
Another specimen of the antefixa is given under the article ANTYX
ii. p. 247; Archaeol. der Kunst,