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Contemporaries of Daidalos and the Daidalidai

Smilis, son of Eukleides, of Aegina


Smilis is almost as problematical as Daidalos. His name was primarily associated with the ancient wooden statue of Hera in Samos; as usual, Pausanias gives the fullest account:

“Some say that the men who sailed in the Argo built the sanctuary of Hera in Samos, and that they brought the image from Argos. But the Samians themselves think that the goddess was born on the island by the river Imbrasos, and under the willow which even in my time still grew in the Heraion. That this sanctuary at all events is among the very oldest might be inferred not least from the image: for it is the work of Aeginetan Smilis, son of Eukleides. This Smilis was a contemporary of Daidalos, though less famous than he ... and it is not clear if he visited other places than Samos and Elis. But he did travel to these, and it was he who made the image of Hera in Samos.

The form and rich kosmesis of this statue is certified by the Samian temple inventories and attested by representations in other media (Stewart 1990, figs. 14-15). In addition:

“The statue of Samian Hera, as Aethilos says, was a wooden beam at first, but afterwards, when Prokles was ruler, it was humanized in form... Olympichos in his Samian History relates that the xoanon of Hera in Samos was made by Smilis son of Eukleides.

Aethlios and Olympichos, ap. Clement of Alexandria, Protrepticus 40, 41
Aethlios of Samos (FGH , 536 F 3) probably wrote in the fifth century B.C., and is thus a source to be reckoned with, while Olympichos (FGH, 537 F 1) lived a century or two later. As to dates, Pausanias (Paus. 7.4.2-3) says that Prokles took Samos at the end of the heroic age, though a later "ruler" called Prokles is theoretically possible any time down to the early sixth century, when the Aiakes-Polykrates family became preeminent. Yet two other writers contradict this otherwise neat package. First, around 270 Kallimachos (fr. 100 Loeb) calls the ancient plank-idol "not yet a well-carved Skelmian work"; and second, Pliny, N.H. 36.90 lists Smilis, together with the mid sixth-century architects and sculptors Rhoikos and Theodoros (see below) as one of the makers of the "Lemnian labyrinth", evidently a misunderstanding of the Samian temple's location en limnais, "in the marsh"; so neither nomenclature nor chronology tally.

As to names, since Smilis and Skelmis are both derived from the Greek and Thracian words (respectively) for "chisel", both are often dismissed as fictions. Yet programmatic names and nicknames are common throughout Greek art, and Kallimachos may simply have been indulging in his usual word-games; furthermore, for what it is worth, the following other works were attributed to Smilis:

  • Hera, at Argos (misunderstanding of T 13?)
  • Seasons, in the Heraion at Olympia (T 16
Concerning the chronology, the inscriptions show that the Hera stood in the temple porch; most likely, then, either Pliny once more misread his sources (presumably the same group of Samian chronicles used by Kallimachos, Pausanias, and Clement), and erroneously included the sculptor with the great temple's two architects, or was drawing upon a careless intermediary, perhaps Varro or Mucianus.

Select bibliography: Overbeck 1868/1959, nos. 283, 331, 340-44; Stuart-Jones 1895/1966, 15; RE 3.A.1: 469, 722-23 (Lippold, 1927); ThB 31: 163 (Bieber, 1937); Lacroix 1949, 206-16; Lippold 1950, 34; FGH 3.b.2: 271 (1955); EAA 7: 363 (Zuffa, 1966); Boardman 1978a, 26; Romano 1980, 250-71; Papadopoulos 1980, 91-95; Pollitt 1990, 20-21; Stewart 1990, 13, 104-05, 241-42.

The Daidalidai

Whether Daidalos existed or not, a number of pupils from Crete, Greece, and South Italy, all of whom apparently belong to the sixth century, were attributed to him:

“The very first men to become famous as marble sculptors were Dipoenus and Scyllis, born in Crete while the Median empire still existed and before Cyrus began to rule in Persia. This was approximately in the 50th Olympiad [580-577]. They moved to Sicyon, which had long been the home of all such industries. The Sicyonians had given them a state contract to make statues of the gods, but before they had finished, the artists, complaining of an injustice, retired to Aetolia. A famine immediately struck Sicyon, as well as barrenness and dire sorrow. When the people sought Pythian Apollo for relief, he replied,only if Dipoenus and Scyllis finish the images of the gods. This was accomplished only at great expense and with much flattery. The statues, incidentally, were of Apollo, Diana, Hercules, and Minerva, the last of which was later struck by lightning.

Pliny, N.H. 36.9-10

“In the temple of Hera [at Olympia] is an image of Zeus, and the image of Hera is sitting on a throne, with Zeus standing by her, bearded and with a helmet on his head; they are simple works. Next to them are the Seasons, sitting on thrones, made by Smilis of Aegina. Beside them stands an image of Themis, the mother of the Seasons, the work of Dorykleidas, a Spartan and a pupil of Dipoinos and Skyllis. Theokles made the Hesperides, five in number; he was a Spartan too, the son of Hegylos, and is said to have studied under Dipoinos and Skyllis. The Athena wearing a helmet and carrying a spear and shield is reputed to be the work of Medon of Sparta, brother of Dorykleidas and a pupil of the same masters. Then come Kore, Demeter, Apollo, and Artemis; the first two sit opposite each other, the second two stand opposite one another. Also dedicated here are Leto, Tyche, Dionysos and a winged Nike; I cannot say who made them, but in my opinion all are extremely ancient. All these are of ivory and gold, but later on others were dedicated in the Heraion ...

“On the right of the Lady of the Bronze House [at Sparta] has been set up an image of Zeus Most High, the oldest image of bronze in existence. It is not wrought in one piece. Each of the limbs has been hammered separately; these are fitted together, being prevented from coming apart by nails. They say that the artist was Klearchos of Rhegion, who is said by some to have been a pupil of Dipoinos and Skyllis, by others of Daidalos himself.

Of these, T 15 opens a series of six chapters on early marble sculpture (continuation, T 18), presumably derived from some anecdotally-inclined Hellenistic connoisseur (see commentary to T 18-19, for a possible candidate). Of his two absolute dates (the only ones extant for the period), that for Dipoinos and Skyllis coincides exactly with the historians' date for Sikyon's pre-eminence under its tyrant Kleisthenes (581/0-576), so may be a pure fabrication; furthermore, at least their works at Argos (A.3 below: Paus. 2.22.5) were not in marble but wood, which suggests an armchair compiler at work at some stage. No statues by the Daidalidai have been recovered (cf. Ridgway 1977, 297 for possible reasons), though a list gives a good conspectus of the thematic and technical range of this early archaic sculpture:

    Dipoinos and Skyllis, sons of Daidalos (?), of Crete
    • Apollo, Artemis, Herakles, and Athena, at Sikyon; marble (?); See T 15
    • Athena, at Kleonai
    • The Dioskouroi, their wives and children, at Argos; ebony and ivory
    • Herakles, at Tiryns
    • Herakles, in Lydia, plundered by Cyrus (547/6)
    • Athena, at Lindos, later in Constantinople (T 128: from ca. A.D. 330)
  • Pausanias (T 28) also calls Endoios a pupil of Daidalos
  • Pupils of Dipoinos and Skyllis
    • Themis by Dorykleidas of Sparta, in the Heraion at Olympia; chryselephantine (T 16
    • Atlas supporting the heavens, Herakles, the apple tree, and the Hesperides (later moved to the Heraion, T 16), by Theokles of Sparta and his son, for the Epidamnian treasury at Olympia; cedarwood
    • Herakles fighting Acheloos, with Deianeira, Athena (later moved to the Heraion, T 16), Zeus, and Ares, by Medon or Dontas of Sparta, for the Megarians at Olympia; cedar inlaid with gold. Small (statuettes?)
    • Zeus Hypatos by Klearchos of Rhegion, at Sparta; sphyrelaton bronze (T 17, cf. T 40
    • Apollo and Artemis, by Tektaios and Anghelion, at Delos; the former of gold (sphyrelaton?)
Select bibliography: Overbeck 1868/1959, nos. 321-37; Stuart-Jones 1895/1966, 8-16; RE 5: 1159-61, 1577 (Robert, 1905); ThB 1: 506 (Amelung, 1907); 9: 323-24, 492 (Amelung, 1913); RE 9.1: 584 (Lippold, 1921); ThB 20: 422 (Bieber, 1927); RE 15.1: 111-12 (Lippold, 1931); 5.A.1: 169-70 (Lippold, 1934); Picard 1935-1971 (vol. 1): (Picard/Manuel) 84-87, 160-61, 462; ThB 32: 509 (Bieber, 1938); 33: 1 (Bieber, 1939); Lacroix 1949, 200-206; Lippold 1950, 23-24, 30, 45, 92; RE suppl. 8: 853-55 (Riemann, 1956); EAA 1: 393 (Amorelli, 1958); 3: 135 (Cressedi, 1960), 172-73, 177 (Guerrini, 1960); 4: 365-66 (Romanelli, 1961); EAA 7: 370 (Zuffa, 1966), 666, 816 (Moreno, 1966); M. Robertson 1975, 59; Boardman 1978a, 26, 76; Romano 1980, 162-89, 197-201, 213-20; Papadopoulos 1980, passim; Boussac 1982; Donohue 1988; Pollitt 1990, 19-22; Stewart 1990, 242-43.

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