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2. The younger Cephisodotus, likewise of Athens, a son of the great Praxiteles, is mentioned by Pliny (34.8.19) with five other sculptors in bronze under the 120th Olympiad (B. C. 300), probably because the battle of Ipsus, B. C. 301, gave to the chronographers a convenient pause to enumerate the artists of distinction then alive; it is, therefore, not to be wondered at if we find Cephisodotus engaged before and probably after that time. Heir to the art of his father (Plin. Nat. 36.4.6), and therefore always a sculptor in bronze and marble, never, as Sillig (p. 144) states, a painter, he was at first employed, together with his brother Timarchus, at Athens and Thebes in some works of importance. First, they executed wooden statues of the orator and statesman Lycurgus (who died B. C. 323), and of his three sons, Abron, Lycurgus, and Lycophron, which were probably ordered by the family of the Butadae, and dedicated in the temple of Erechtheus on the Acropolis, as well as the pictures on the walls placed there by Abron. (Paus. 1.26.6; Plut. Vit X Orat. p. 843.) Sillig confounds by a strange mistake the picture of Ismenias with the statues of Praxiteles' sons (πίναξ and εἰκόνες ξύλιναι). The marble basement of one of these statues has been discovered lately on the Acropolis, together with another pedestal dedicated by Cephisodotus and Timarchus to their uncle Theoxenides. (Ross, Kunstblatt, 1840, No. 12.) It is very likely that the artists performed their task so well, that the people, when they ordered a bronze statue to be erected to their benefactor, B. C. 307 (Psephism. apud Plut. l.c. p. 852; Paus. 1.8.2), committed it to them. The vicinity at least of the temple of Mars, where the sons of Praxiteles had wrought a statue of Enyo (Paus. l.c. § 5), supports this supposition. Another work which they executed in common was the altar of the Cadmean Dionysus at Thebes (Paus. 9.12.3 : Βωμόν is the genuine reading, not the vulgate κάδμον), probably erected soon after the restoration of Thebes by Cassander, B. C. 315, in which the Athenians heartily concurred. This is the last work in which both artists are named.

The latter part of the life of Cephisodotus is quite unknown. Whether he remained at Athens or left the town after B. C. 303 in its disasters, for the brilliant courts of the successors of Alexander, or whether, for instance, as might be inferred from Pliny (36.4.6), he was employed at Pergamus, cannot be decided. It would seem, on account of Myros's portrait, that he had been at Alexandria at any rate. Of his statues of divinities four--Latona, Diana, Aesculapius, and Venus, were admired at Rome in various buildings. (Plin. l.c.) Cephisodotus was also distinguished in portrait-sculpture, especially of philosophers (Plin. Nat. 34.8. s. 19.27), under which general terms Pliny comprises perhaps all literary people. According to the common opinion of antiquarians (Sillig. l.c.; Meyer, Note to Winckelmann, l.c.; Hirt, Geschichte der bildenden Künste, p. 220), he portrayed likewise courtezans, for which they quote Tatian (ad vers. Graecos, 100.52, p. 114, ed. Worth.), and think probably of the well-known similar works of Praxiteles. But Tatian in that chapter does not speak of courtezans, but of poets and poetesses, whose endeavors were f no use to mankind; it is only in 100.53 that lie speaks of dissipated men and women, and in 100.55 of all these idle people together. In fact the two ladies whom Cephisodotus is there stated to have represented, are very well known to us as poetesses, --Myro or Moero of Byzantium, mother of the tragic poet Homer (who flourished B. C. 284; see Suidas, s. v. Ὅμηρος), and Anyte. [ANYTE.]

All the works of Cephisodotus are lost. One only, but one of the noblest, the Symplegma, praised by Pliny (36.4.6) and visible at his time at Pergamus, is considered by many antiquarians as still in existence in an imitation only, but a very good one, the celebrated group of two wrestling youths at Florence. (Gall. di Firenze Statue, iii. tavv. 121, 122.) Winckelmann seems to have changed his mind about its meaning, for in one place (Gesch. d. Kunst, 9.2. 28) lie refers it to the group of Niobe with which it was found, and in another (9.3.19) he takes it to be a work either of Cephisodotus or of Heliodorus; and to the former artist it is ascribed by Maffei. (Collectan. Statuar. Antiq. tab. 29, p. 31; Meyer, in his Note to Winckelmann, Gesch. der bildenden Künste, vol. i. pp. 138, 304; Müller, Handb. d. Archäol. § 126. 4.423. 4, Denkmäler der alten Kunst, Heft, 3.149.) Now this opinion is certainly more probable than the strange idea of Hirt (Gesch d. bildend. Künste b. d. Alten. p. 187), that we see in the Florentine work an imitation of the wrestlers of Daedalus (Plin. Nat. 34.8. s. 19.15), which were no group at all, but two isolated athletes. But still it is very far from being true. There is no doubt that the Florentine statues do not belong to the Niobids, although Wagner, in his able article respecting these master-works (Kunstblatt, 1830, No. 55), has tried to revive that old error of Winckelmann, and Krause (Gymnastik der Hellenen, vol. i. pp. 414, 540) admits it as possible. (Comp. Welcker, Rhein Museum, 1836, p. 264.) But they have nothing to do with the work of Cephisodotus, because Pliny's words point to a very different representation. He speaks of " digitis verius corpori, quam marmori impressis," and in the group of Florence there is no impression of fingers at all. This reason is advanced also by Zannoni (Gall. di Firenze, iii. p. 108, &c.), who, although he denies that Cephisodotus invented the group, persists in considering it as a combat between two athletes. The " alterum in terris symplegma nobile" (Plin. Nat. 36.4.10) by Heliodorus shewed " Pana et Olympum luctantes." Now as there were but two famous symplegmata, one of which was certainly of an amorous description, that of Cephisodotus could not be a different one, but represented an amorous strife of two individuals. To this kind there belongs a group which is shewn by its frequent repetitions to have been one of the most celebrated of ancient art, namely, the beautiful though indecent contest of an old Satyr and a Hermaphrodite, of which two fine copies are in the Dresden museum, the print and description of which is contained in Böttiger's Adchäologie und Kunst (p. 165, &c.). This seems to be the work of our artist, where the position of the hands in particular agrees perfectly with Pliny's description.


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  • Cross-references from this page (5):
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.26.6
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.8.2
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 9.12.3
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 34.8
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 36.4
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