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Title: Greek Studies: a Series of Essays
Author: Pater, Walter
Language: English
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GREEK STUDIES: A SERIES OF ESSAYS

By WALTER HORATIO PATER

E-text Editor: Alfred J. Drake, Ph.D.
Electronic Version 1.0 / Date 10-17-01


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GREEK STUDIES: A SERIES OF ESSAYS
WALTER HORATIO PATER

NOTES BY THE E-TEXT EDITOR:

Reliability: Although I have done my best to ensure that the text you
read is error-free in comparison with an exact reprint of the
standard edition--Macmillan's 1910 Library Edition--please exercise
scholarly caution in using it.  It is not intended as a substitute
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some imperfections in the text, but if you are writing a scholarly
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editions of any works you cite.

Pagination and Paragraphing: To avoid an unwieldy electronic copy, I
have transferred original pagination to brackets.  A bracketed
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have preserved paragraph structure except for first-line indentation.

Hyphenation: I have not preserved original hyphenation since an e-
text does not require line-end or page-end hyphenation.

Greek typeface: For this full-text edition, I have transliterated
Pater's Greek quotations.  If there is a need for the original Greek,
it can be viewed at my site, http://www.ajdrake.com/etexts, a
Victorianist archive that contains the complete works of Walter Pater
and many other nineteenth-century texts, mostly in first editions.



CONTENTS



GREEK STUDIES: A SERIES OF ESSAYS

WALTER PATER

London: Macmillan, 1910. (The Library Edition.)

E-text Editor: Alfred J. Drake, Ph.D.

Electronic Version 1.0 / Date 10-12-01

Disclaimer of Damages for All Texts on This Web

E-text Editor's Note

Preface by Charles Shadwell

A Study of Dionysus: The Spiritual Form of Fire and Dew: 9-52

The Bacchanals of Euripides: 53-80

The Myth of Demeter and Persephone I. 81-112

The Myth of Demeter and Persephone II. 113-151

Hippolytus Veiled: A Study from Euripides: 152-186

The Beginnings of Greek Sculpture--I. The Heroic Age of Greek Art:
187-223

The Beginnings of Greek Sculpture--II. The Age of Graven Images: 224-
250

The Marbles of Aegina: 251-268

The Age of Athletic Prizemen: A Chapter in Greek Art: 269-end



PREFACE BY CHARLES L. SHADWELL

[1] THE present volume consists of a collection of essays by the
late Mr. Pater, all of which have already been given to the public in
various Magazines; and it is owing to the kindness of the several
proprietors of those Magazines that they can now be brought together
in a collected shape.  It will, it is believed, be felt, that their
value is considerably enhanced by their appearance in a single
volume, where they can throw light upon one another, and exhibit by
their connexion a more complete view of the scope and purpose of Mr.
Pater in dealing with the art and literature of the ancient world.

The essays fall into two distinct groups, one dealing with the
subjects of Greek mythology and Greek poetry, the other with the
history of Greek sculpture and Greek architecture.  But these two
groups are not wholly distinct; they mutually illustrate one another,
and serve to enforce Mr. Pater's conception of the essential [2]
unity, in all its many-sidedness, of the Greek character.  The god
understood as the "spiritual form" of the things of nature is not
only the key-note of the "Study of Dionysus"* and "The Myth of
Demeter and Persephone,"* but reappears as contributing to the
interpretation of the growth of Greek sculpture.*  Thus, though in
the bibliography of his writings, the two groups are separated by a
considerable interval, there is no change of view; he had already
reached the centre of the problem, and, the secret once gained, his
mode of treatment of the different aspects of Greek life and thought
is permanent and consistent.

The essay on "The Myth of Demeter and Persephone" was originally
prepared as two lectures, for delivery, in 1875, at the Birmingham
and Midland Institute.  These lectures were published in the
Fortnightly Review, in Jan. and Feb. 1876.  The "Study of Dionysus"
appeared in the same Review in Dec. 1876.  "The Bacchanals of
Euripides" must have been written about the same time, as a sequel to
the "Study of Dionysus"; for, in 1878, Mr. Pater revised the four
essays, with the intention, apparently, of publishing them
collectively in a volume, an intention afterwards abandoned. [3] The
text now printed has, except that of "The Bacchanals," been taken
from proofs then set up, further corrected in manuscript.  "The
Bacchanals," written long before, was not published until 1889, when
it appeared in Macmillan's Magazine for May.  It was reprinted,
without alteration, prefixed to Dr. Tyrrell's edition of the Bacchae.
"Hippolytus Veiled" first appeared in August 1889, in Macmillan's
Magazine.  It was afterwards rewritten, but with only a few
substantial alterations, in Mr. Pater's own hand, with a view,
probably, of republishing it with other essays.  This last revise has
been followed in the text now printed.

The papers on Greek sculpture* are all that remain of a series which,
if Mr. Pater had lived, would, probably, have grown into a still more
important work.  Such a work would have included one or more essays
on Phidias and the Parthenon, of which only a fragment, though an
important fragment, can be found amongst his papers; and it was to
have been prefaced by an Introduction to Greek Studies, only a page
or two of which was ever written.

[4] This is not the place to speak of Mr. Pater's private virtues,
the personal charm of his character, the brightness of his talk, the
warmth of his friendship, the devotion of his family life.  But a few
words may be permitted on the value of the work by which he will be
known to those who never saw him.

Persons only superficially acquainted, or by hearsay, with his
writings, are apt to sum up his merits as a writer by saying that he
was a master, or a consummate master of style; but those who have
really studied what he wrote do not need to be told that his
distinction does not lie in his literary grace alone, his fastidious
choice of language, his power of word-painting, but in the depth and
seriousness of his studies.  That the amount he has produced, in a
literary life of thirty years, is not greater, is one proof among
many of the spirit in which he worked.  His genius was "an infinite
capacity for taking pains."  That delicacy of insight, that gift of
penetrating into the heart of things, that subtleness of
interpretation, which with him seems an instinct, is the outcome of
hard, patient, conscientious study.  If he had chosen, he might,
without difficulty, have produced a far greater body of work of less
value; and from a worldly point of view, he would have been wise.
Such was not his understanding [5] of the use of his talents.  Cui
multum datum est, multum quaeretur ab eo.  Those who wish to
understand the spirit in which he worked, will find it in this
volume.  C.L.S.

Oct. 1894.

NOTES

2. *See p. 34.

2. *See p. 100.

2. *See pp. 220, 254.

3. *"The Beginnings of Greek Sculpture" was published in the
Fortnightly Review, Feb. and March 1880; "The Marbles of Aegina" in
the same Review in April.  "The Age of Athletic Prizemen" was
published in the Contemporary Review in February of the present year.



A STUDY OF DIONYSUS:
THE SPIRITUAL FORM OF FIRE AND DEW

[9] WRITERS on mythology speak habitually of the religion of the
Greeks.  In thus speaking, they are really using a misleading
expression, and should speak rather of religions; each race and class
of Greeks--the Dorians, the people of the coast, the fishers--having
had a religion of its own, conceived of the objects that came nearest
to it and were most in its thoughts, and the resulting usages and
ideas never having come to have a precisely harmonised system, after
the analogy of some other religions.  The religion of Dionysus is the
religion of people who pass their lives among the vines.  As the
religion of Demeter carries us back to the cornfields and farmsteads
of Greece, and places us, in fancy, among a primitive race, in the
furrow and beside the granary; so the religion of Dionysus carries us
back to its vineyards, and is a monument of the ways and thoughts of
people whose days go by beside the winepress, and [10] under the
green and purple shadows, and whose material happiness depends on the
crop of grapes.  For them the thought of Dionysus and his circle, a
little Olympus outside the greater, covered the whole of life, and
was a complete religion, a sacred representation or interpretation of
the whole human experience, modified by the special limitations, the
special privileges of insight or suggestion, incident to their
peculiar mode of existence.

Now, if the reader wishes to understand what the scope of the
religion of Dionysus was to the Greeks who lived in it, all it
represented to them by way of one clearly conceived yet complex
symbol, let him reflect what the loss would be if all the effect and
expression drawn from the imagery of the vine and the cup fell out of
the whole body of existing poetry; how many fascinating trains of
reflexion, what colour and substance would therewith have been
deducted from it, filled as it is, apart from the more aweful
associations of the Christian ritual, apart from Galahad's cup, with
all the various symbolism of the fruit of the vine.  That supposed
loss is but an imperfect measure of all that the name of Dionysus
recalled to the Greek mind, under a single imaginable form, an
outward body of flesh presented to the senses, and comprehending, as
its animating soul, a whole world of thoughts, surmises, greater and
less experiences.

[11] The student of the comparative science of religions finds in the
religion of Dionysus one of many modes of that primitive tree-worship
which, growing out of some universal instinctive belief that trees
and flowers are indeed habitations of living spirits, is found almost
everywhere in the earlier stages of civilisation, enshrined in legend
or custom, often graceful enough, as if the delicate beauty of the
object of worship had effectually taken hold on the fancy of the
worshipper.  Shelley's Sensitive Plant shows in what mists of
poetical reverie such feeling may still float about a mind full of
modern lights, the feeling we too have of a life in the green world,
always ready to assert its claim over our sympathetic fancies.  Who
has not at moments felt the scruple, which is with us always
regarding animal life, following the signs of animation further
still, till one almost hesitates to pluck out the little soul of
flower or leaf?

And in so graceful a faith the Greeks had their share; what was crude
and inane in it becoming, in the atmosphere of their energetic,
imaginative intelligence, refined and humanised.  The oak-grove of
Dodona, the seat of their most venerable oracle, did but perpetuate
the fancy that the sounds of the wind in the trees may be, for
certain prepared and chosen ears, intelligible voices; they could
believe in the transmigration of souls into mulberry and laurel, mint
and hyacinth; and the dainty Metamorphoses of Ovid [12] are but a
fossilised form of one morsel here and there, from a whole world of
transformation, with which their nimble fancy was perpetually
playing.  "Together with them," says the Homeric hymn to Aphrodite,
of the Hamadryads, the nymphs which animate the forest trees, "with
them, at the moment of their birth, grew up out of the soil, oak-tree
or pine, fair, flourishing among the mountains.  And when at last the
appointed hour of their death has come, first of all, those fair
trees are dried up; the bark perishes from around them, and the
branches fall away; and therewith the soul of them deserts the light
of the sun."+

These then are the nurses of the vine, bracing it with interchange of
sun and shade.  They bathe, they dance, they sing songs of
enchantment, so that those who seem oddly in love with nature, and
strange among their fellows, are still said to be nympholepti; above
all, they are weavers or spinsters, spinning or weaving with airiest
fingers, and subtlest, many-coloured threads, the foliage of the
trees, the petals of flowers, the skins of the fruit, the long thin
stalks on which the poplar leaves are set so lightly that Homer
compares to them, in their constant motion, the maids who sit
spinning in the house of Alcinous.  The nymphs of Naxos, where the
grape-skin is darkest, weave for him a purple robe.  Only, the ivy is
never transformed, is visible as natural ivy to the last, pressing
the [13] dark outline of its leaves close upon the firm, white, quite
human flesh of the god's forehead.

In its earliest form, then, the religion of Dionysus presents us with
the most graceful phase of this graceful worship, occupying a place
between the ruder fancies of half-civilised people concerning life in
flower or tree, and the dreamy after-fancies of the poet of the
Sensitive Plant.  He is the soul of the individual vine, first; the
young vine at the house-door of the newly married, for instance, as
the vine-grower stoops over it, coaxing and nursing it, like a pet
animal or a little child; afterwards, the soul of the whole species,
the spirit of fire and dew, alive and leaping in a thousand vines, as
the higher intelligence, brooding more deeply over things, pursues,
in thought, the generation of sweetness and strength in the veins of
the tree, the transformation of water into wine, little by little;
noting all the influences upon it of the heaven above and the earth
beneath; and shadowing forth, in each pause of the process, an
intervening person--what is to us but the secret chemistry of nature
being to them the mediation of living spirits.  So they passed on to
think of Dionysus (naming him at last from the brightness of the sky
and the moisture of the earth) not merely as the soul of the vine,
but of all that life in flowing things of which the vine is the
symbol, because its most emphatic example.  At Delos he bears a son,
from whom [14] in turn spring the three mysterious sisters Oeno,
Spermo, and Elais, who, dwelling in the island, exercise respectively
the gifts of turning all things at will into oil, and corn, and wine.
In the Bacchae of Euripides, he gives his followers, by miracle,
honey and milk, and the water gushes for them from the smitten rock.
He comes at last to have a scope equal to that of Demeter, a realm as
wide and mysterious as hers; the whole productive power of the earth
is in him, and the explanation of its annual change.  As some embody
their intuitions of that power in corn, so others in wine.  He is the
dispenser of the earth's hidden wealth, giver of riches through the
vine, as Demeter through the grain.  And as Demeter sends the airy,
dainty-wheeled and dainty-winged spirit of Triptolemus to bear her
gifts abroad on all winds, so Dionysus goes on his eastern journey,
with its many intricate adventures, on which he carries his gifts to
every people.

A little Olympus outside the greater, I said, of Dionysus and his
companions; he is the centre of a cycle, the hierarchy of the
creatures of water and sunlight in many degrees; and that fantastic
system of tree-worship places round him, not the fondly whispering
spirits of the more graceful inhabitants of woodland only, the nymphs
of the poplar and the pine, but the whole satyr circle, intervening
between the headship of the vine and the mere earth, the grosser,
less human [15] spirits, incorporate and made visible, of the more
coarse and sluggish sorts of vegetable strength, the fig, the reed,
the ineradicable weed-things which will attach themselves, climbing
about the vine-poles, or seeking the sun between the hot stones.  For
as Dionysus, the spiritual form of the vine, is of the highest human
type, so the fig-tree and the reed have animal souls, mistakeable in
the thoughts of a later, imperfectly remembering age, for mere
abstractions of animal nature; Snubnose, and Sweetwine, and Silenus,
the oldest of them all, so old that he has come to have the gift of
prophecy.

Quite different from them in origin and intent, but confused with
them in form, are those other companions of Dionysus, Pan and his
children.  Home-spun dream of simple people, and like them in the
uneventful tenour of his existence, he has almost no story; he is but
a presence; the spiritual form of Arcadia, and the ways of human life
there; the reflexion, in sacred image or ideal, of its flocks, and
orchards, and wild honey; the dangers of its hunters; its weariness
in noonday heat; its children, agile as the goats they tend, who run,
in their picturesque rags, across the solitary wanderer's path, to
startle him, in the unfamiliar upper places; its one adornment and
solace being the dance to the homely shepherd's pipe, cut by Pan
first from the sedges of the brook Molpeia.

Breathing of remote nature, the sense of which [16] is so profound in
the Homeric hymn to Pan, the pines, the foldings of the hills, the
leaping streams, the strange echoings and dying of sound on the
heights, "the bird, which among the petals of many-flowered spring,
pouring out a dirge, sends forth her honey-voiced song," "the crocus
and the hyacinth disorderly mixed in the deep grass"+--things which
the religion of Dionysus loves--Pan joins the company of the Satyrs.
Amongst them, they give their names to insolence and mockery, and the
finer sorts of malice, to unmeaning and ridiculous fear.  But the
best spirits have found in them also a certain human pathos, as in
displaced beings, coming even nearer to most men, in their very
roughness, than the noble and delicate person of the vine; dubious
creatures, half-way between the animal and human kinds, speculating
wistfully on their being, because not wholly understanding themselves
and their place in nature; as the animals seem always to have this
expression to some noticeable degree in the presence of man.  In the
later school of Attic sculpture they are treated with more and more
of refinement, till in some happy moment Praxiteles conceived a
model, often repeated, which concentrates this sentiment of true
humour concerning them; a model of dainty natural ease in posture,
but with the legs slightly crossed, as only lowly-bred gods are used
to carry them, and with some puzzled trouble of youth, you might wish
for a moment [17] to smoothe away, puckering the forehead a little,
between the pointed ears, on which the goodly hair of his animal
strength grows low.  Little by little, the signs of brute nature are
subordinated, or disappear; and at last, Robetta, a humble Italian
engraver of the fifteenth century, entering into the Greek fancy
because it belongs to all ages, has expressed it in its most
exquisite form, in a design of Ceres and her children, of whom their
mother is no longer afraid, as in the Homeric hymn to Pan.  The puck-
noses have grown delicate, so that, with Plato's infatuated lover,
you may call them winsome, if you please; and no one would wish those
hairy little shanks away, with which one of the small Pans walks at
her side, grasping her skirt stoutly; while the other, the sick or
weary one, rides in the arms of Ceres herself, who in graceful
Italian dress, and decked airily with fruit and corn, steps across a
country of cut sheaves, pressing it closely to her, with a child's
peevish trouble in its face, and its small goat-legs and tiny hoofs
folded over together, precisely after the manner of a little child.

There is one element in the conception of Dionysus, which his
connexion with the satyrs, Marsyas being one of them, and with Pan,
from whom the flute passed to all the shepherds of Theocritus, alike
illustrates, his interest, namely, in one of the great species of
music.  One form of that wilder vegetation, of which the Satyr race
is the soul made visible, is the reed, which [18] the creature plucks
and trims into musical pipes.  And as Apollo inspires and rules over
all the music of strings, so Dionysus inspires and rules over all the
music of the reed, the water-plant, in which the ideas of water and
of vegetable life are brought close together, natural property,
therefore, of the spirit of life in the green sap.  I said that the
religion of Dionysus was, for those who lived in it, a complete
religion, a complete sacred representation and interpretation of the
whole of life; and as, in his relation to the vine, he fills for them
the place of Demeter, is the life of the earth through the grape as
she through the grain, so, in this other phase of his being, in his
relation to the reed, he fills for them the place of Apollo; he is
the inherent cause of music and poetry; he inspires; he explains the
phenomena of enthusiasm, as distinguished by Plato in the Phaedrus,
the secrets of possession by a higher and more energetic spirit than
one's own, the gift of self-revelation, of passing out of oneself
through words, tones, gestures.  A winged Dionysus, venerated at
Amyclae, was perhaps meant to represent him thus, as the god of
enthusiasm, of the rising up on those spiritual wings, of which also
we hear something in the Phaedrus of Plato.

The artists of the Renaissance occupied themselves much with the
person and the story of Dionysus; and Michelangelo, in a work still
remaining in Florence, in which he essayed [19] with success to
produce a thing which should pass with the critics for a piece of
ancient sculpture, has represented him in the fulness, as it seems,
of this enthusiasm, an image of delighted, entire surrender to
transporting dreams.  And this is no subtle after-thought of a later
age, but true to certain finer movements of old Greek sentiment,
though it may seem to have waited for the hand of Michelangelo before
it attained complete realisation.  The head of Ion leans, as they
recline at the banquet, on the shoulder of Charmides; he mutters in
his sleep of things seen therein, but awakes as the flute-players
enter, whom Charmides has hired for his birthday supper.  The soul of
Callias, who sits on the other side of Charmides, flashes out; he
counterfeits, with life-like gesture, the personal tricks of friend
or foe; or the things he could never utter before, he finds words for
now; the secrets of life are on his lips.  It is in this loosening of
the lips and heart, strictly, that Dionysus is the Deliverer,
Eleutherios; and of such enthusiasm, or ecstasy, is, in a certain
sense, an older patron than Apollo himself.  Even at Delphi, the
centre of Greek inspiration and of the religion of Apollo, his claim
always maintained itself; and signs are not wanting that Apollo was
but a later comer there.  There, under his later reign, hard by the
golden image of Apollo himself, near the sacred tripod on which the
Pythia sat to prophesy, was to be seen a strange object--a sort [20]
of coffin or cinerary urn with the inscription, "Here lieth the body
of Dionysus, the son of Semele."  The pediment of the great temple
was divided between them--Apollo with the nine Muses on that side,
Dionysus, with perhaps three times three Graces, on this.  A third of
the whole year was held sacred to him; the four winter months were
the months of Dionysus; and in the shrine of Apollo itself he was
worshipped with almost equal devotion.

The religion of Dionysus takes us back, then, into that old Greek
life of the vineyards, as we see it on many painted vases, with much
there as we should find it now, as we see it in Bennozzo Gozzoli's
mediaeval fresco of the Invention of Wine in the Campo Santo at Pisa-
-the family of Noah presented among all the circumstances of a Tuscan
vineyard, around the press from which the first wine is flowing, a
painted idyll, with its vintage colours still opulent in decay, and
not without its solemn touch of biblical symbolism.  For differences,
we detect in that primitive life, and under that Greek sky, a nimbler
play of fancy, lightly and unsuspiciously investing all things with
personal aspect and incident, and a certain mystical apprehension,
now almost departed, of unseen powers beyond the material veil of
things, corresponding to the exceptional vigour and variety of the
Greek organisation.  This peasant life lies, in unhistoric time,
behind the definite forms with which poetry and a refined [21]
priesthood afterwards clothed the religion of Dionysus; and the mere
scenery and circumstances of the vineyard have determined many things
in its development.  The noise of the vineyard still sounds in some
of his epithets, perhaps in his best-known name--Iacchus, Bacchus.
The masks suspended on base or cornice, so familiar an ornament in
later Greek architecture, are the little faces hanging from the
vines, and moving in the wind, to scare the birds.  That garland of
ivy, the aesthetic value of which is so great in the later imagery of
Dionysus and his descendants, the leaves of which, floating from his
hair, become so noble in the hands of Titian and Tintoret, was
actually worn on the head for coolness; his earliest and most sacred
images were wrought in the wood of the vine.  The people of the
vineyard had their feast, the little or country Dionysia, which still
lived on, side by side with the greater ceremonies of a later time,
celebrated in December, the time of the storing of the new wine.  It
was then that the potters' fair came, calpis and amphora, together
with lamps against the winter, laid out in order for the choice of
buyers; for Keramus, the Greek Vase, is a son of Dionysus, of wine
and of Athene, who teaches men all serviceable and decorative art.
Then the goat was killed, and its blood poured out at the root of the
vines; and Dionysus literally drank the blood of goats; and, being
Greeks, with quick and mobile sympathies, [22] deisidaimones,+
"superstitious," or rather "susceptible of religious impressions,"
some among them, remembering those departed since last year, add yet
a little more, and a little wine and water for the dead also;
brooding how the sense of these things might pass below the roots, to
spirits hungry and thirsty, perhaps, in their shadowy homes.  But the
gaiety, that gaiety which Aristophanes in the Acharnians has depicted
with so many vivid touches, as a thing of which civil war had
deprived the villages of Attica, preponderates over the grave.  The
travelling country show comes round with its puppets; even the slaves
have their holiday;* the mirth becomes excessive; they hide their
faces under grotesque masks of bark, or stain them with wine-lees, or
potters' crimson even, like the old rude idols painted red; and carry
in midnight procession such rough symbols of the productive force of
nature as the women and children had best not look upon; which will
be frowned upon, and refine themselves, or disappear, in the feasts
of cultivated Athens.

Of the whole story of Dionysus, it was the episode of his marriage
with Ariadne about which ancient art concerned itself oftenest, and
with most effect.  Here, although the antiquarian [23] may still
detect circumstances which link the persons and incidents of the
legend with the mystical life of the earth, as symbols of its annual
change, yet the merely human interest of the story has prevailed over
its earlier significance; the spiritual form of fire and dew has
become a romantic lover.  And as a story of romantic love, fullest
perhaps of all the motives of classic legend of the pride of life, it
survived with undiminished interest to a later world, two of the
greatest masters of Italian painting having poured their whole power
into it; Titian with greater space of ingathered shore and mountain,
and solemn foliage, and fiery animal life; Tintoret with profounder
luxury of delight in the nearness to each other, and imminent
embrace, of glorious bodily presences; and both alike with consummate
beauty of physical form.  Hardly less humanised is the Theban legend
of Dionysus, the legend of his birth from Semele, which, out of the
entire body of tradition concerning him, was accepted as central by
the Athenian imagination.  For the people of Attica, he comes from
Boeotia, a country of northern marsh and mist, but from whose sombre,
black marble towns came also the vine, the musical reed cut from its
sedges, and the worship of the Graces, always so closely connected
with the religion of Dionysus.  "At Thebes alone," says Sophocles,
"mortal women bear immortal gods."  His mother is the daughter of
Cadmus, himself marked out by [24] many curious circumstances as the
close kinsman of the earth, to which he all but returns at last, as
the serpent, in his old age, attesting some closer sense lingering
there of the affinity of man with the dust from whence he came.
Semele, an old Greek word, as it seems, for the surface of the earth,
the daughter of Cadmus, beloved by Zeus, desires to see her lover in
the glory with which he is seen by the immortal Hera.  He appears to
her in lightning.  But the mortal may not behold him and live.
Semele gives premature birth to the child Dionysus; whom, to preserve
it from the jealousy of Hera, Zeus hides in a part of his thigh, the
child returning into the loins of its father, whence in due time it
is born again.  Yet in this fantastic story, hardly less than in the
legend of Ariadne, the story of Dionysus has become a story of human
persons, with human fortunes, and even more intimately human appeal
to sympathy; so that Euripides, pre-eminent as a poet of pathos,
finds in it a subject altogether to his mind.  All the interest now
turns on the development of its points of moral or sentimental
significance; the love of the immortal for the mortal, the
presumption of the daughter of man who desires to see the divine form
as it is; on the fact that not without loss of sight, or life itself,
can man look upon it.  The travail of nature has been transformed
into the pangs of the human mother; and the poet dwells much on the
pathetic incident of death in childbirth, making [25] Dionysus, as
Callimachus calls him, a seven months' child, cast out among its
enemies, motherless.  And as a consequence of this human interest,
the legend attaches itself, as in an actual history, to definite
sacred objects and places, the venerable relic of the wooden image
which fell into the chamber of Semele with the lightning-flash, and
which the piety of a later age covered with plates of brass; the Ivy-
Fountain near Thebes, the water of which was so wonderfully bright
and sweet to drink, where the nymphs bathed the new-born child; the
grave of Semele, in a sacred enclosure grown with ancient vines,
where some volcanic heat or flame was perhaps actually traceable,
near the lightning-struck ruins of her supposed abode.

Yet, though the mystical body of the earth is forgotten in the human
anguish of the mother of Dionysus, the sense of his essence of fire
and dew still lingers in his most sacred name, as the son of Semele,
Dithyrambus.  We speak of a certain wild music in words or rhythm as
dithyrambic, like the dithyrambus, that is, the wild choral-singing
of the worshippers of Dionysus.  But Dithyrambus seems to have been,
in the first instance, the name, not of the hymn, but of the god to
whom the hymn is sung; and, through a tangle of curious etymological
speculations as to the precise derivation of this name, one thing
seems clearly visible, that it commemorates, namely, the double birth
of the vine-god; that [26] he is born once and again; his birth,
first of fire, and afterwards of dew; the two dangers that beset him;
his victory over two enemies, the capricious, excessive heats and
colds of spring.

He is pyrigenês,+ then, fire-born, the son of lightning; lightning
being to light, as regards concentration, what wine is to the other
strengths of the earth.  And who that has rested a hand on the
glittering silex of a vineyard slope in August, where the pale globes
of sweetness are lying, does not feel this?  It is out of the bitter
salts of a smitten, volcanic soil that it comes up with the most
curious virtues.  The mother faints and is parched up by the heat
which brings the child to the birth; and it pierces through, a wonder
of freshness, drawing its everlasting green and typical coolness out
of the midst of the ashes; its own stem becoming at last like a
tangled mass of tortured metal.  In thinking of Dionysus, then, as
fire-born, the Greeks apprehend and embody the sentiment, the poetry,
of all tender things which grow out of a hard soil, or in any sense
blossom before the leaf, like the little mezereon-plant of English
gardens, with its pale-purple, wine-scented flowers upon the leafless
twigs in February, or like the almond-trees of Tuscany, or Aaron's
rod that budded, or the staff in the hand of the Pope when
Tannhäuser's repentance is accepted.

And his second birth is of the dew.  The fire of which he was born
would destroy him in [27] his turn, as it withered up his mother; a
second danger comes; from this the plant is protected by the
influence of the cooling cloud, the lower part of his father the sky,
in which it is wrapped and hidden, and of which it is born again, its
second mother being, in some versions of the legend, Hyé--the Dew.
The nursery, where Zeus places it to be brought up, is a cave in
Mount Nysa, sought by a misdirected ingenuity in many lands, but
really, like the place of the carrying away of Persephone, a place of
fantasy, the oozy place of springs in the hollow of the hillside,
nowhere and everywhere, where the vine was "invented."  The nymphs of
the trees overshadow it from above; the nymphs of the springs sustain
it from below--the Hyades, those first leaping maenads, who, as the
springs become rain-clouds, go up to heaven among the stars, and
descend again, as dew or shower, upon it; so that the religion of
Dionysus connects itself, not with tree-worship only, but also with
ancient water-worship, the worship of the spiritual forms of springs
and streams.  To escape from his enemies Dionysus leaps into the sea,
the original of all rain and springs, whence, in early summer, the
women of Elis and Argos were wont to call him, with the singing of a
hymn.  And again, in thus commemorating Dionysus as born of the dew,
the Greeks apprehend and embody the sentiment, the poetry, of water.
For not the heat only, but its solace--the freshness of the [28] cup-
-this too was felt by those people of the vineyard, whom the prophet
Melampus had taught to mix always their wine with water, and with
whom the watering of the vines became a religious ceremony; the very
dead, as they thought, drinking of and refreshed by the stream.  And
who that has ever felt the heat of a southern country does not know
this poetry, the motive of the loveliest of all the works attributed
to Giorgione, the Fête Champêtre in the Louvre; the intense
sensations, the subtle and far-reaching symbolisms, which, in these
places, cling about the touch and sound and sight of it?  Think of
the darkness of the well in the breathless court, with the delicate
ring of ferns kept alive just within the opening; of the sound of the
fresh water flowing through the wooden pipes into the houses of
Venice, on summer mornings; of the cry Acqua frésca! at Padua or
Verona, when the people run to buy what they prize, in its rare
purity, more than wine, bringing pleasures so full of exquisite
appeal to the imagination, that, in these streets, the very beggars,
one thinks, might exhaust all the philosophy of the epicurean.

Out of all these fancies comes the vine-growers' god, the spiritual
form of fire and dew.  Beyond the famous representations of Dionysus
in later art and poetry--the Bacchanals of Euripides, the statuary of
the school of Praxiteles--a multitude of literary allusions and local
[29] customs carry us back to this world of vision unchecked by
positive knowledge, in which the myth is begotten among a primitive
people, as they wondered over the life of the thing their hands
helped forward, till it became for them a kind of spirit, and their
culture of it a kind of worship.  Dionysus, as we see him in art and
poetry, is the projected expression of the ways and dreams of this
primitive people, brooded over and harmonised by the energetic Greek
imagination; the religious imagination of the Greeks being,
precisely, a unifying or identifying power, bringing together things
naturally asunder, making, as it were, for the human body a soul of
waters, for the human soul a body of flowers; welding into something
like the identity of a human personality the whole range of man's
experiences of a given object, or series of objects--all their
outward qualities, and the visible facts regarding them--all the
hidden ordinances by which those facts and qualities hold of unseen
forces, and have their roots in purely visionary places.

Dionysus came later than the other gods to the centres of Greek life;
and, as a consequence of this, he is presented to us in an earlier
stage of development than they; that element of natural fact which is
the original essence of all mythology being more unmistakeably
impressed upon us here than in other myths.  Not the least
interesting point in the study of him is, that he illustrates very
clearly, not only the [30] earlier, but also a certain later
influence of this element of natural fact, in the development of the
gods of Greece.  For the physical sense, latent in it, is the clue,
not merely to the original signification of the incidents of the
divine story, but also to the source of the peculiar imaginative
expression which its persons subsequently retain, in the forms of the
higher Greek sculpture.  And this leads me to some general thoughts
on the relation of Greek sculpture to mythology, which may help to
explain what the function of the imagination in Greek sculpture
really was, in its handling of divine persons.

That Zeus is, in earliest, original, primitive intention, the open
sky, across which the thunder sometimes sounds, and from which the
rain descends--is a fact which not only explains the various stories
related concerning him, but determines also the expression which he
retained in the work of Pheidias, so far as it is possible to recall
it, long after the growth of those later stories had obscured, for
the minds of his worshippers, his primary signification.  If men
felt, as Arrian tells us, that it was a calamity to die without
having seen the Zeus of Olympia; that was because they experienced
the impress there of that which the eye and the whole being of man
love to find above him; and the genius of Pheidias had availed to
shed, upon the gold and ivory of the physical form, the blandness,
the breadth, the smile of the open sky; the mild [31] heat of it
still coming and going, in the face of the father of all the children
of sunshine and shower; as if one of the great white clouds had
composed itself into it, and looked down upon them thus, out of the
midsummer noonday: so that those things might be felt as warm, and
fresh, and blue, by the young and the old, the weak and the strong,
who came to sun themselves in the god's presence, as procession and
hymn rolled on, in the fragrant and tranquil courts of the great
Olympian temple; while all the time those people consciously
apprehended in the carved image of Zeus none but the personal, and
really human, characteristics.

Or think, again, of the Zeus of Dodona.  The oracle of Dodona, with
its dim grove of oaks, and sounding instruments of brass to husband
the faintest whisper in the leaves, was but a great consecration of
that sense of a mysterious will, of which people still feel, or seem
to feel, the expression, in the motions of the wind, as it comes and
goes, and which makes it, indeed, seem almost more than a mere symbol
of the spirit within us.  For Zeus was, indeed, the god of the winds
also; Aeolus, their so-called god, being only his mortal minister, as
having come, by long study of them, through signs in the fire and the
like, to have a certain communicable skill regarding them, in
relation to practical uses.  Now, suppose a Greek sculptor to have
proposed to himself to present [32] to his worshippers the image of
this Zeus of Dodona, who is in the trees and on the currents of the
air.  Then, if he had been a really imaginative sculptor, working as
Pheidias worked, the very soul of those moving, sonorous creatures
would have passed through his hand, into the eyes and hair of the
image; as they can actually pass into the visible expression of those
who have drunk deeply of them; as we may notice, sometimes, in our
walks on mountain or shore.

Victory again--Niké--associated so often with Zeus--on the top of his
staff, on the foot of his throne, on the palm of his extended hand--
meant originally, mythologic science tells us, only the great victory
of the sky, the triumph of morning over darkness.  But that physical
morning of her origin has its ministry to the later aesthetic sense
also.  For if Niké, when she appears in company with the mortal, and
wholly fleshly hero, in whose chariot she stands to guide the horses,
or whom she crowns with her garland of parsley or bay, or whose names
she writes on a shield, is imaginatively conceived, it is because the
old skyey influences are still not quite suppressed in her clear-set
eyes, and the dew of the morning still clings to her wings and her
floating hair.

The office of the imagination, then, in Greek sculpture, in its
handling of divine persons, is thus to condense the impressions of
natural things into human form; to retain that early mystical sense
of water, or wind, or light, in the [33] moulding of eye and brow; to
arrest it, or rather, perhaps, to set it free, there, as human
expression.  The body of man, indeed, was for the Greeks, still the
genuine work of Prometheus; its connexion with earth and air asserted
in many a legend, not shaded down, as with us, through innumerable
stages of descent, but direct and immediate; in precise contrast to
our physical theory of our life, which never seems to fade, dream
over it as we will, out of the light of common day.  The oracles with
their messages to human intelligence from birds and springs of water,
or vapours of the earth, were a witness to that connexion.  Their
story went back, as they believed, with unbroken continuity, and in
the very places where their later life was lived, to a past,
stretching beyond, yet continuous with, actual memory, in which
heaven and earth mingled; to those who were sons and daughters of
stars, and streams, and dew; to an ancestry of grander men and women,
actually clothed in, or incorporate with, the qualities and
influences of those objects; and we can hardly over-estimate the
influence on the Greek imagination of this mythical connexion with
the natural world, at not so remote a date, and of the solemnising
power exercised thereby over their thoughts.  In this intensely
poetical situation, the historical Greeks, the Athenians of the age
of Pericles, found themselves; it was as if the actual roads on which
men daily walk, went up and on, into a visible wonderland.

[34] With such habitual impressions concerning the body, the physical
nature of man, the Greek sculptor, in his later day, still free in
imagination, through the lingering influence of those early dreams,
may have more easily infused into human form the sense of sun, or
lightning, or cloud, to which it was so closely akin, the spiritual
flesh allying itself happily to mystical meanings, and readily
expressing seemingly unspeakable qualities.  But the human form is a
limiting influence also; and in proportion as art impressed human
form, in sculpture or in the drama, on the vaguer conceptions of the
Greek mind, there was danger of an escape from them of the free
spirit of air, and light, and sky.  Hence, all through the history of
Greek art, there is a struggle, a Streben, as the Germans say,
between the palpable and limited human form, and the floating essence
it is to contain.  On the one hand, was the teeming, still fluid
world, of old beliefs, as we see it reflected in the somewhat
formless theogony of Hesiod; a world, the Titanic vastness of which
is congruous with a certain sublimity of speech, when he has to
speak, for instance, of motion or space; as the Greek language itself
has a primitive copiousness and energy of words, for wind, fire,
water, cold, sound--attesting a deep susceptibility to the
impressions of those things--yet with edges, most often, melting into
each other.  On the other hand, there was that limiting, controlling
tendency, [35] identified with the Dorian influence in the history of
the Greek mind, the spirit of a severe and wholly self-conscious
intelligence; bent on impressing everywhere, in the products of the
imagination, the definite, perfectly conceivable human form, as the
only worthy subject of art; less in sympathy with the mystical
genealogies of Hesiod, than with the heroes of Homer, ending in the
entirely humanised religion of Apollo, the clearly understood
humanity of the old Greek warriors in the marbles of Aegina.  The
representation of man, as he is or might be, became the aim of
sculpture, and the achievement of this the subject of its whole
history; one early carver had opened the eyes, another the lips, a
third had given motion to the feet; in various ways, in spite of the
retention of archaic idols, the genuine human expression had come,
with the truthfulness of life itself.

These two tendencies, then, met and struggled and were harmonised in
the supreme imagination, of Pheidias, in sculpture--of Aeschylus, in
the drama.  Hence, a series of wondrous personalities, of which the
Greek imagination became the dwelling-place; beautiful, perfectly
understood human outlines, embodying a strange, delightful, lingering
sense of clouds and water and sun.  Such a world, the world of really
imaginative Greek sculpture, we still see, reflected in many a humble
vase or battered coin, in Bacchante, and Centaur, and Amazon; [36]
evolved out of that "vasty deep"; with most command, in the
consummate fragments of the Parthenon; not, indeed, so that he who
runs may read, the gifts of Greek sculpture being always delicate,
and asking much of the receiver; but yet visible, and a pledge to us,
of creative power, as, to the worshipper, of the presence, which,
without that material pledge, had but vaguely haunted the fields and
groves.

This, then, was what the Greek imagination did for men's sense and
experience of natural forces, in Athene, in Zeus, in Poseidon; for
men's sense and experience of their own bodily qualities--swiftness,
energy, power of concentrating sight and hand and foot on a momentary
physical act--in the close hair, the chastened muscle, the perfectly
poised attention of the quoit-player; for men's sense, again, of
ethical qualities--restless idealism, inward vision, power of
presence through that vision in scenes behind the experience of
ordinary men--in the idealised Alexander.

To illustrate this function of the imagination, as especially
developed in Greek art, we may reflect on what happens with us in the
use of certain names, as expressing summarily, this name for you and
that for me--Helen, Gretchen, Mary--a hundred associations, trains of
sound, forms, impressions, remembered in all sorts of degrees, which,
through a very wide and full experience, they have the power of
bringing with [37] them; in which respect, such names are but
revealing instances of the whole significance, power, and use of
language in general.  Well,--the mythical conception, projected at
last, in drama or sculpture, is the name, the instrument of the
identification, of the given matter,--of its unity in variety, its
outline or definition in mystery; its spiritual form, to use again
the expression I have borrowed from William Blake--form, with hands,
and lips, and opened eyelids--spiritual, as conveying to us, in that,
the soul of rain, or of a Greek river, or of swiftness, or purity.

To illustrate this, think what the effect would be, if you could
associate, by some trick of memory, a certain group of natural
objects, in all their varied perspective, their changes of colour and
tone in varying light and shade, with the being and image of an
actual person.  You travelled through a country of clear rivers and
wide meadows, or of high windy places, or of lowly grass and willows,
or of the Lady of the Lake; and all the complex impressions of these
objects wound themselves, as a second animated body, new and more
subtle, around the person of some one left there, so that they no
longer come to recollection apart from each other.  Now try to
conceive the image of an actual person, in whom, somehow, all those
impressions of the vine and its fruit, as the highest type of the
life of the green sap, had become incorporate;--all the scents and
colours of its flower and fruit, and [38] something of its curling
foliage; the chances of its growth; the enthusiasm, the easy flow of
more choice expression, as its juices mount within one; for the image
is eloquent, too, in word, gesture, and glancing of the eyes, which
seem to be informed by some soul of the vine within it: as Wordsworth
says,

Beauty born of murmuring sound
Shall pass into her face--

so conceive an image into which the beauty, "born" of the vine, has
passed; and you have the idea of Dionysus, as he appears, entirely
fashioned at last by central Greek poetry and art, and is consecrated
in the Oinophoria and the Anthestêria,+ the great festivals of the
Winepress and the Flowers.

The word wine, and with it the germ of the myth of Dionysus, is older
than the separation of the Indo-Germanic race.  Yet, with the people
of Athens, Dionysus counted as the youngest of the gods; he was also
the son of a mortal, dead in childbirth, and seems always to have
exercised the charm of the latest born, in a sort of allowable
fondness.  Through the fine-spun speculations of modern ethnologists
and grammarians, noting the changes in the letters of his name, and
catching at the slightest historical records of his worship, we may
trace his coming from Phrygia, the birthplace of the more mystical
elements of [39] Greek religion, over the mountains of Thrace.  On
the heights of Pangaeus he leaves an oracle, with a perpetually
burning fire, famous down to the time of Augustus, who reverently
visited it.  Southwards still, over the hills of Parnassus, which
remained for the inspired women of Boeotia the centre of his
presence, he comes to Thebes, and the family of Cadmus.  From Boeotia
he passes to Attica; to the villages first; at last to Athens; at an
assignable date, under Peisistratus; out of the country, into the
town.

To this stage of his town-life, that Dionysus of "enthusiasm" already
belonged; it was to the Athenians of the town, to urbane young men,
sitting together at the banquet, that those expressions of a sudden
eloquence came, of the loosened utterance and finer speech, its
colour and imagery.  Dionysus, then, has entered Athens, to become
urbane like them; to walk along the marble streets in frequent
procession, in the persons of noble youths, like those who at the
Oschophoria bore the branches of the vine from his temple, to the
temple of Athene of the Parasol, or of beautiful slaves; to
contribute through the arts to the adornment of life, yet perhaps
also in part to weaken it, relaxing ancient austerity.  Gradually,
his rough country feasts will be outdone by the feasts of the town;
and as comedy arose out of those, so these will give rise to tragedy.
For his entrance upon this new stage of his career, his coming into
the town, is from the [40] first tinged with melancholy, as if in
entering the town he had put off his country peace.  The other
Olympians are above sorrow.  Dionysus, like a strenuous mortal hero,
like Hercules or Perseus, has his alternations of joy and sorrow, of
struggle and hard-won triumph.  It is out of the sorrows of Dionysus,
then,--of Dionysus in winter--that all Greek tragedy grows; out of
the song of the sorrows of Dionysus, sung at his winter feast by the
chorus of satyrs, singers clad in goat-skins, in memory of his rural
life, one and another of whom, from time to time, steps out of the
company to emphasise and develope this or that circumstance of the
story; and so the song becomes dramatic.  He will soon forget that
early country life, or remember it but as the dreamy background of
his later existence.  He will become, as always in later art and
poetry, of dazzling whiteness; no longer dark with the air and sun,
but like one eskiatrofêkôs+--brought up under the shade of Eastern
porticoes or pavilions, or in the light that has only reached him
softened through the texture of green leaves; honey-pale, like the
delicate people of the city, like the flesh of women, as those old
vase-painters conceive of it, who leave their hands and faces
untouched with the pencil on the white clay.  The ruddy god of the
vineyard, stained with wine-lees, or coarser colour, will hardly
recognise his double, in the white, graceful, mournful figure,
weeping, chastened, lifting up his arms in yearning+ [41] affection
towards his late-found mother, as we see him on a famous Etruscan
mirror.  Only, in thinking of this early tragedy, of these town-
feasts, and of the entrance of Dionysus into Athens, you must
suppose, not the later Athens which is oftenest in our thoughts, the
Athens of Pericles and Pheidias; but that little earlier Athens of
Peisistratus, which the Persians destroyed, which some of us perhaps
would rather have seen, in its early simplicity, than the greater
one; when the old image of the god, carved probably out of the stock
of an enormous vine, had just come from the village of Eleutherae to
his first temple in the Lenaeum--the quarter of the winepresses, near
the Limnae--the marshy place, which in Athens represents the cave of
Nysa; its little buildings on the hill-top, still with steep rocky
ways, crowding round the ancient temple of Erechtheus and the grave
of Cecrops, with the old miraculous olive-tree still growing there,
and the old snake of Athene Polias still alive somewhere in the
temple court.

The artists of the Italian Renaissance have treated Dionysus many
times, and with great effect, but always in his joy, as an embodiment
of that glory of nature to which the Renaissance was a return.  But
in an early engraving of Mocetto there is for once a Dionysus treated
differently.  The cold light of the background displays a barren
hill, the bridge and towers of [42] an Italian town, and quiet water.
In the foreground, at the root of a vine, Dionysus is sitting, in a
posture of statuesque weariness; the leaves of the vine are grandly
drawn, and wreathing heavily round the head of the god, suggest the
notion of his incorporation into it.  The right hand, holding a great
vessel languidly and indifferently, lets the stream of wine flow
along the earth; while the left supports the forehead, shadowing
heavily a face, comely, but full of an expression of painful
brooding.  One knows not how far one may really be from the mind of
the old Italian engraver, in gathering from his design this
impression of a melancholy and sorrowing Dionysus.  But modern
motives are clearer; and in a Bacchus by a young Hebrew painter, in
the exhibition of the Royal Academy of 1868, there was a complete and
very fascinating realisation of such a motive; the god of the
bitterness of wine, "of things too sweet"; the sea-water of the
Lesbian grape become somewhat brackish in the cup.  Touched by the
sentiment of this subtler, melancholy Dionysus, we may ask whether
anything similar in feeling is to be actually found in the range of
Greek ideas;--had some antitype of this fascinating figure any place
in Greek religion?  Yes; in a certain darker side of the double god
of nature, obscured behind the brighter episodes of Thebes and Naxos,
but never quite forgotten, something corresponding to this deeper,
more refined idea, [43] really existed--the conception of Dionysus
Zagreus; an image, which has left, indeed, but little effect in Greek
art and poetry, which criticism has to put patiently together, out of
late, scattered hints in various writers; but which is yet
discernible, clearly enough to show that it really visited certain
Greek minds here and there; and discernible, not as a late after-
thought, but as a tradition really primitive, and harmonious with the
original motive of the idea of Dionysus.  In its potential, though
unrealised scope, it is perhaps the subtlest dream in Greek religious
poetry, and is, at least, part of the complete physiognomy of
Dionysus, as it actually reveals itself to the modern student, after
a complete survey.

The whole compass of the idea of Dionysus, a dual god of both summer
and winter, became ultimately, as we saw, almost identical with that
of Demeter.  The Phrygians believed that the god slept in winter and
awoke in summer, and celebrated his waking and sleeping; or that he
was bound and imprisoned in winter, and unbound in spring.  We saw
how, in Elis and at Argos, the women called him out of the sea, with
the singing of hymns, in early spring; and a beautiful ceremony in
the temple at Delphi, which, as we know, he shares with Apollo,
described by Plutarch, represents his mystical resurrection.  Yearly,
about the time of the shortest day, just as the light begins to
increase, [44] and while hope is still tremulously strung, the
priestesses of Dionysus were wont to assemble with many lights at his
shrine, and there, with songs and dances, awoke the new-born child
after his wintry sleep, waving in a sacred cradle, like the great
basket used for winnowing corn, a symbolical image, or perhaps a real
infant.  He is twofold then--a Döppelganger; like Persephone, he
belongs to two worlds, and has much in common with her, and a full
share of those dark possibilities which, even apart from the story of
the rape, belong to her.  He is a Chthonian god, and, like all the
children of the earth, has an element of sadness; like Hades himself,
he is hollow and devouring, an eater of man's flesh--sarcophagus--the
grave which consumed unaware the ivory-white shoulder of Pelops.

And you have no sooner caught a glimpse of this image, than a certain
perceptible shadow comes creeping over the whole story; for, in
effect, we have seen glimpses of the sorrowing Dionysus, all along.
Part of the interest of the Theban legend of his birth is that he
comes of the marriage of a god with a mortal woman; and from the
first, like merely mortal heroes, he falls within the sphere of human
chances.  At first, indeed, the melancholy settles round the person
of his mother, dead in childbirth, and ignorant of the glory of her
son; in shame, according to Euripides; punished, as her own sisters
allege, for impiety.  The death of Semele [45] is a sort of ideal or
type of this peculiar claim on human pity, as the descent of
Persephone into Hades, of all human pity over the early death of
women.  Accordingly, his triumph being now consummated, he descends
into Hades, through the unfathomable Alcyonian lake, according to the
most central version of the legend, to bring her up from thence; and
that Hermes, the shadowy conductor of souls, is constantly associated
with Dionysus, in the story of his early life, is not without
significance in this connexion.  As in Delphi the winter months were
sacred to him, so in Athens his feasts all fall within the four
months on this and the other side of the shortest day; as Persephone
spends those four months--a third part of the year--in Hades.  Son or
brother of Persephone he actually becomes at last, in confused, half-
developed tradition; and even has his place, with his dark sister, in
the Eleusinian mysteries, as Iacchus; where, on the sixth day of the
feast, in the great procession from Athens to Eleusis, we may still
realise his image, moving up and down above the heads of the vast
multitude, as he goes, beside "the two," to the temple of Demeter,
amid the light of torches at noonday.

But it was among the mountains of Thrace that this gloomier element
in the being of Dionysus had taken the strongest hold.  As in the
sunny villages of Attica the cheerful elements of his religion had
been developed, so, in those [46] wilder northern regions, people
continued to brood over its darker side, and hence a current of
gloomy legend descended into Greece.  The subject of the Bacchanals
of Euripides is the infatuated opposition of Pentheus, king of
Thebes, to Dionysus and his religion; his cruelty to the god, whom he
shuts up in prison, and who appears on the stage with his delicate
limbs cruelly bound, but who is finally triumphant; Pentheus, the man
of grief, being torn to pieces by his own mother, in the judicial
madness sent upon her by the god.  In this play, Euripides has only
taken one of many versions of the same story, in all of which
Dionysus is victorious, his enemy being torn to pieces by the sacred
women, or by wild horses, or dogs, or the fangs of cold; or the
maenad Ambrosia, whom he is supposed to pursue for purposes of lust,
suddenly becomes a vine, and binds him down to the earth
inextricably, in her serpentine coils.

In all these instances, then, Dionysus punishes his enemies by
repaying them in kind.  But a deeper vein of poetry pauses at the
sorrow, and in the conflict does not too soon anticipate the final
triumph.  It is Dionysus himself who exhausts these sufferings.
Hence, in many forms--reflexes of all the various phases of his
wintry existence--the image of Dionysus Zagreus, the Hunter--of
Dionysus in winter--storming wildly on the dark Thracian hills, from
which, like Ares and Boreas, he originally descends into [47] Greece;
the thought of the hunter concentrating into itself all men's
forebodings over the departure of the year at its richest, and the
death of all sweet things in the long-continued cold, when the sick
and the old and little children, gazing out morning after morning on
the dun sky, can hardly believe in the return any more of a bright
day.  Or he is connected with the fears, the dangers and hardships of
the hunter himself, lost or slain sometimes, far from home, in the
dense woods of the mountains, as he seeks his meat so ardently;
becoming, in his chase, almost akin to the wild beasts--to the wolf,
who comes before us in the name of Lycurgus, one of his bitterest
enemies--and a phase, therefore, of his own personality, in the true
intention of the myth.  This transformation, this image of the
beautiful soft creature become an enemy of human kind, putting off
himself in his madness, wronged by his own fierce hunger and thirst,
and haunting, with terrible sounds, the high Thracian farms, is the
most tragic note of the whole picture, and links him on to one of the
gloomiest creations of later romance, the werewolf, the belief in
which still lingers in Greece, as in France, where it seems to become
incorporate in the darkest of all romantic histories, that of Gilles
de Retz.

And now we see why the tradition of human sacrifice lingered on in
Greece, in connexion with Dionysus, as a thing of actual detail, and
[48] not remote, so that Dionysius of Halicarnassus counts it among
the horrors of Greek religion.  That the sacred women of Dionysus
ate, in mystical ceremony, raw flesh, and drank blood, is a fact
often mentioned, and commemorates, as it seems, the actual sacrifice
of a fair boy deliberately torn to pieces, fading at last into a
symbolical offering.  At Delphi, the wolf was preserved for him, on
the principle by which Venus loves the dove, and Hera peacocks; and
there were places in which, after the sacrifice of a kid to him, a
curious mimic pursuit of the priest who had offered it represented
the still surviving horror of one who had thrown a child to the
wolves.  The three daughters of Minyas devote themselves to his
worship; they cast lots, and one of them offers her own tender infant
to be torn by the three, like a roe; then the other women pursue
them, and they are turned into bats, or moths, or other creatures of
the night.  And fable is endorsed by history; Plutarch telling us
how, before the battle of Salamis, with the assent of Themistocles,
three Persian captive youths were offered to Dionysus the Devourer.

As, then, some embodied their fears of winter in Persephone, others
embodied them in Dionysus, a devouring god, whose sinister side (as
the best wine itself has its treacheries) is illustrated in the dark
and shameful secret society described by Livy, in which his worship
ended at Rome, afterwards abolished by solemn act of the senate. [49]
He becomes a new Aidoneus, a hunter of men's souls; like him, to be
appeased only by costly sacrifices.

And then, Dionysus recovering from his mid-winter madness, how
intensely these people conceive the spring!  It is that triumphant
Dionysus, cured of his great malady, and sane in the clear light of
the longer days, whom Euripides in the Bacchanals sets before us, as
still, essentially, the Hunter, Zagreus; though he keeps the red
streams and torn flesh away from the delicate body of the god, in his
long vesture of white and gold, and fragrant with Eastern odours.  Of
this I hope to speak in another paper; let me conclude this by one
phase more of religious custom.

If Dionysus, like Persephone, has his gloomy side, like her he has
also a peculiar message for a certain number of refined minds,
seeking, in the later days of Greek religion, such modifications of
the old legend as may minister to ethical culture, to the perfecting
of the moral nature.  A type of second birth, from first to last, he
opens, in his series of annual changes, for minds on the look-out for
it, the hope of a possible analogy, between the resurrection of
nature, and something else, as yet unrealised, reserved for human
souls; and the beautiful, weeping creature, vexed by the wind,
suffering, torn to pieces, and rejuvenescent again at last, like a
tender shoot of living green out of the hardness and stony darkness+
[50] of the earth, becomes an emblem or ideal of chastening and
purification, and of final victory through suffering.  It is the
finer, mystical sentiment of the few, detached from the coarser and
more material religion of the many, and accompanying it, through the
course of its history, as its ethereal, less palpable, life-giving
soul, and, as always happens, seeking the quiet, and not too anxious
to make itself felt by others.  With some unfixed, though real, place
in the general scheme of Greek religion, this phase of the worship of
Dionysus had its special development in the Orphic literature and
mysteries.  Obscure as are those followers of the mystical Orpheus,
we yet certainly see them, moving, and playing their part, in the
later ages of Greek religion.  Old friends with new faces, though
they had, as Plato witnesses, their less worthy aspect, in certain
appeals to vulgar, superstitious fears, they seem to have been not
without the charm of a real and inward religious beauty, with their
neologies, their new readings of old legends, their sense of mystical
second meanings, as they refined upon themes grown too familiar, and
linked, in a sophisticated age, the new to the old.  In this respect,
we may perhaps liken them to the mendicant orders in the Middle Ages,
with their florid, romantic theology, beyond the bounds of orthodox
tradition, giving so much new matter to art and poetry.  They are a
picturesque addition, also, to the exterior of Greek life, with [51]
their white dresses, their dirges, their fastings and ecstasies,
their outward asceticism and material purifications.  And the central
object of their worship comes before us as a tortured, persecuted,
slain god--the suffering Dionysus--of whose legend they have their
own special and esoteric version.  That version, embodied in a
supposed Orphic poem, The Occultation of Dionysus, is represented
only by the details that have passed from it into the almost endless
Dionysiaca of Nonnus, a writer of the fourth century; and the imagery
has to be put back into the shrine, bit by bit, and finally
incomplete.  Its central point is the picture of the rending to
pieces of a divine child, of whom a tradition, scanty indeed, but
harmonious in its variations, had long maintained itself.  It was in
memory of it, that those who were initiated into the Orphic mysteries
tasted of the raw flesh of the sacrifice, and thereafter ate flesh no
more; and it connected itself with that strange object in the Delphic
shrine, the grave of Dionysus.

Son, first, of Zeus, and of Persephone whom Zeus woos, in the form of
a serpent--the white, golden-haired child, the best-beloved of his
father, and destined by him to be the ruler of the world, grows up in
secret.  But one day, Zeus, departing on a journey in his great
fondness for the child, delivered to him his crown and staff, and so
left him--shut in a strong tower.  Then it came to pass that the
jealous Here sent [52] out the Titans against him.  They approached
the crowned child, and with many sorts of playthings enticed him
away, to have him in their power, and then miserably slew him--
hacking his body to pieces, as the wind tears the vine, with the axe
Pelekus, which, like the swords of Roland and Arthur, has its proper
name.  The fragments of the body they boiled in a great cauldron, and
made an impious banquet upon them, afterwards carrying the bones to
Apollo, whose rival the young child should have been, thinking to do
him service.  But Apollo, in great pity for this his youngest
brother, laid the bones in a grave, within his own holy place.
Meanwhile, Here, full of her vengeance, brings to Zeus the heart of
the child, which she had snatched, still beating, from the hands of
the Titans.  But Zeus delivered the heart to Semele; and the soul of
the child remaining awhile in Hades, where Demeter made for it new
flesh, was thereafter born of Semele--a second Zagreus--the younger,
or Theban Dionysus.

NOTES

12. +"Hymn to Aphrodite," lines 264-72 (Greek text).  The Homeric
Hymns and Homerica with an English Translation by Hugh G. Evelyn-
White.  Homeric Hymns. Cambridge, MA., Harvard University Press;
London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1914.

16. +"Hymn to Pan," lines 16ff.  The Homeric Hymns and Homerica with
an English Translation by Hugh G. Evelyn-White.  Homeric Hymns.
Cambridge, MA., Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann
Ltd. 1914.

22. +Transliteration: deisidaimones.  Liddell and Scott definition:
"fearing the gods," in both a good and bad sense--i.e. either pious
or superstitious.

22. *There were some who suspected Dionysus of a secret democratic
interest; though indeed he was liberator only of men's hearts, and
eleuthereus only because he never forgot Eleutherae, the little
place which, in Attica, first received him.

26. +E-text editor's transliteration: pyrigenês.  Liddell and Scott
definition: "born of fire."

38. +Transliteration: Oinophoria  . . . Anthestêria.  Liddell and
Scott definition of Anthestêria: "The Feast of Flowers, the three
days' festival of Bacchus at Athens, in the month Anthesterion."

40. +Transliteration: eskiatrofêkôs.  Liddell and Scott definition:
participle of skiatropheo, "to rear in the shade."



THE BACCHANALS OF EURIPIDES

[53] So far, I have endeavoured to present, with something of the
concrete character of a picture, Dionysus, the old Greek god, as we
may discern him through a multitude of stray hints in art and poetry
and religious custom, through modern speculation on the tendencies of
early thought, through traits and touches in our own actual states of
mind, which may seem sympathetic with those tendencies.  In such a
picture there must necessarily be a certain artificiality; things
near and far, matter of varying degrees of certainty, fact and
surmise, being reflected and concentrated, for its production, as if
on the surface of a mirror.  Such concrete character, however, Greek
poet or sculptor, from time to time, impressed on the vague world of
popular belief and usage around him; and in the Bacchanals of
Euripides we have an example of the figurative or imaginative power
of poetry, selecting and combining, at will, from that mixed and
floating mass, weaving the many-coloured threads together, blending
the various phases of legend--all the light and shade of the [54]
subject--into a shape, substantial and firmly set, through which a
mere fluctuating tradition might retain a permanent place in men's
imaginations.  Here, in what Euripides really says, in what we
actually see on the stage, as we read his play, we are dealing with a
single real object, not with uncertain effects of many half-fancied
objects.  Let me leave you for a time almost wholly in his hands,
while you look very closely at his work, so as to discriminate its
outlines clearly.

This tragedy of the Bacchanals--a sort of masque or morality, as we
say--a monument as central for the legend of Dionysus as the Homeric
hymn for that of Demeter, is unique in Greek literature, and has also
a singular interest in the life of Euripides himself.  He is writing
in old age (the piece was not played till after his death) not at
Athens, nor for a polished Attic audience, but for a wilder and less
temperately cultivated sort of people, at the court of Archelaus, in
Macedonia.  Writing in old age, he is in that subdued mood, a mood
not necessarily sordid, in which (the shudder at the nearer approach
of the unknown world coming over him more frequently than of old)
accustomed ideas, conformable to a sort of common sense regarding the
unseen, oftentimes regain what they may have lost, in a man's
allegiance.  It is a sort of madness, he begins to think, to differ
from the received opinions thereon.  Not that he is insincere or
ironical, but that he tends, in the [55] sum of probabilities, to
dwell on their more peaceful side; to sit quiet, for the short
remaining time, in the reflexion of the more cheerfully lighted side
of things; and what is accustomed--what holds of familiar usage--
comes to seem the whole essence of wisdom, on all subjects; and the
well-known delineation of the vague country, in Homer or Hesiod,
one's best attainable mental outfit, for the journey thither.  With
this sort of quiet wisdom the whole play is penetrated.  Euripides
has said, or seemed to say, many things concerning Greek religion, at
variance with received opinion; and now, in the end of life, he
desires to make his peace--what shall at any rate be peace with men.
He is in the mood for acquiescence, or even for a palinode; and this
takes the direction, partly of mere submission to, partly of a
refining upon, the authorised religious tradition: he calmly
sophisticates this or that element of it which had seemed grotesque;
and has, like any modern writer, a theory how myths were made, and
how in lapse of time their first signification gets to be obscured
among mortals; and what he submits to, that he will also adorn
fondly, by his genius for words.

And that very neighbourhood afforded him his opportunity.  It was in
the neighbourhood of Pella, the Macedonian capital, that the worship
of Dionysus, the newest of the gods, prevailed in its most
extravagant form--the [56] Thiasus, or wild, nocturnal procession of
Bacchic women, retired to the woods and hills for that purpose, with
its accompaniments of music, and lights, and dancing.  Rational and
moderate Athenians, as we may gather from some admissions of
Euripides himself, somewhat despised all that; while those who were
more fanatical forsook the home celebrations, and went on pilgrimage
from Attica to Cithaeron or Delphi.  But at Pella persons of high
birth took part in the exercise, and at a later period we read in
Plutarch how Olympias, the mother of Alexander the Great, was devoted
to this enthusiastic worship.  Although in one of Botticelli's
pictures the angels dance very sweetly, and may represent many
circumstances actually recorded in the Hebrew scriptures, yet we
hardly understand the dance as a religious ceremony; the bare mention
of it sets us thinking on some fundamental differences between the
pagan religions and our own.  It is to such ecstasies, however, that
all nature-worship seems to tend; that giddy, intoxicating sense of
spring--that tingling in the veins, sympathetic with the yearning
life of the earth, having, apparently, in all times and places,
prompted some mode of wild dancing.  Coleridge, in one of his
fantastic speculations, refining on the German word for enthusiasm--
Schwärmerei, swarming, as he says, "like the swarming of bees
together"--has explained how the sympathies of mere numbers, as such,
the random catching on [57] fire of one here and another there, when
people are collected together, generates as if by mere contact, some
new and rapturous spirit, not traceable in the individual units of a
multitude.  Such swarming was the essence of that strange dance of
the Bacchic women: literally like winged things, they follow, with
motives, we may suppose, never quite made clear even to themselves,
their new, strange, romantic god.  Himself a woman-like god,--it was
on women and feminine souls that his power mainly fell.  At Elis, it
was the women who had their own little song with which at spring-time
they professed to call him from the sea: at Brasiae they had their
own temple where none but women might enter; and so the Thiasus,
also, is almost exclusively formed of women--of those who experience
most directly the influence of things which touch thought through the
senses--the presence of night, the expectation of morning, the
nearness of wild, unsophisticated, natural things--the echoes, the
coolness, the noise of frightened creatures as they climbed through
the darkness, the sunrise seen from the hill-tops, the disillusion,
the bitterness of satiety, the deep slumber which comes with the
morning.  Athenians visiting the Macedonian capital would hear, and
from time to time actually see, something of a religious custom, in
which the habit of an earlier world might seem to survive.  As they
saw the lights flitting over the mountains, [58] and heard the wild,
sharp cries of the women, there was presented, as a singular fact in
the more prosaic actual life of a later time, an enthusiasm otherwise
relegated to the wonderland of a distant past, in which a supposed
primitive harmony and understanding between man and nature renewed
itself.  Later sisters of Centaur and Amazon, the Maenads, as they
beat the earth in strange sympathy with its waking up from sleep, or
as, in the description of the Messenger, in the play of Euripides,
they lie sleeping in the glen, revealed among the morning mists, were
themselves indeed as remnants--flecks left here and there and not yet
quite evaporated under the hard light of a later and commoner day--of
a certain cloud-world which had once covered all things with a veil
of mystery.  Whether or not, in what was often probably coarse as
well as extravagant, there may have lurked some finer vein of ethical
symbolism, such as Euripides hints at--the soberer influence, in the
Thiasus, of keen air and animal expansion, certainly, for art, and a
poetry delighting in colour and form, it was a custom rich in
suggestion.  The imitative arts would draw from it altogether new
motives of freedom and energy, of freshness in old forms.  It is from
this fantastic scene that the beautiful wind-touched draperies, the
rhythm, the heads suddenly thrown back, of many a Pompeian wall-
painting and sarcophagus-frieze are originally derived; and that
melting languor, that perfectly [59] composed lassitude of the fallen
Maenad, became a fixed type in the school of grace, the school of
Praxiteles.

The circumstances of the place thus combining with his peculiar
motive, Euripides writes the Bacchanals.  It is this extravagant
phase of religion, and the latest-born of the gods, which as an
amende honorable to the once slighted traditions of Greek belief, he
undertakes to interpret to an audience composed of people who, like
Scyles, the Hellenising king of Scythia, feel the attraction of Greek
religion and Greek usage, but on their quainter side, and partly
relish that extravagance.  Subject and audience alike stimulate the
romantic temper, and the tragedy of the Bacchanals, with its
innovations in metre and diction, expressly noted as foreign or
barbarous--all the charm and grace of the clear-pitched singing of
the chorus, notwithstanding--with its subtleties and sophistications,
its grotesques, mingled with and heightening a real shudder at the
horror of the theme, and a peculiarly fine and human pathos, is
almost wholly without the reassuring calm, generally characteristic
of the endings of Greek tragedy: is itself excited, troubled,
disturbing--a spotted or dappled thing, like the oddly dappled fawn-
skins of its own masquerade, so aptly expressive of the shifty,
twofold, rapidly-doubling genius of the divine, wild creature
himself.  Let us listen and watch the strange masks coming and going,
for a while, [60] as far as may be as we should do with a modern
play.  What are its charms?  What is still alive, impressive, and
really poetical for us, in the dim old Greek play?

The scene is laid at Thebes, where the memory of Semele, the mother
of Dionysus, is still under a cloud.  Her own sisters, sinning
against natural affection, pitiless over her pathetic death and
finding in it only a judgment upon the impiety with which, having
shamed herself with some mortal lover, she had thrown the blame of
her sin upon Zeus, have, so far, triumphed over her.  The true and
glorious version of her story lives only in the subdued memory of the
two aged men, Teiresias the prophet, and her father Cadmus, apt now
to let things go loosely by, who has delegated his royal power to
Pentheus, the son of one of those sisters--a hot-headed and impious
youth.  So things had passed at Thebes; and now a strange
circumstance has happened.  An odd sickness has fallen upon the
women: Dionysus has sent the sting of his enthusiasm upon them, and
has pushed it to a sort of madness, a madness which imitates the true
Thiasus.  Forced to have the form without the profit of his worship,
the whole female population, leaving distaff and spindle, and headed
by the three princesses, have deserted the town, and are lying
encamped on the bare rocks, or under the pines, among the solitudes
of Cithaeron.  And it is just at this point that the divine child,
[61] supposed to have perished at his mother's side in the flames,
returns to his birthplace, grown to manhood.

Dionysus himself speaks the prologue.  He is on a journey through the
world to found a new religion; and the first motive of this new
religion is the vindication of the memory of his mother.  In
explaining this design, Euripides, who seeks always for pathetic
effect, tells in few words, touching because simple, the story of
Semele--here, and again still more intensely in the chorus which
follows--the merely human sentiment of maternity being not forgotten,
even amid the thought of the divine embraces of her fiery bed-fellow.
It is out of tenderness for her that the son's divinity is to be
revealed.  A yearning affection, the affection with which we see him
lifting up his arms about her, satisfied at last, on an old Etruscan
metal mirror, has led him from place to place: everywhere he has had
his dances and established his worship; and everywhere his presence
has been her justification.  First of all the towns in Greece he
comes to Thebes, the scene of her sorrows: he is standing beside the
sacred waters of Dirce and Ismenus: the holy place is in sight: he
hears the Greek speech, and sees at last the ruins of the place of
her lying-in, at once his own birth-chamber and his mother's tomb.
His image, as it detaches itself little by little from the episodes
of the play, and is further characterised by the [62] songs of the
chorus, has a singular completeness of symbolical effect.  The
incidents of a fully developed human personality are superinduced on
the mystical and abstract essence of that fiery spirit in the flowing
veins of the earth--the aroma of the green world is retained in the
fair human body, set forth in all sorts of finer ethical lights and
shades--with a wonderful kind of subtlety.  In the course of his long
progress from land to land, the gold, the flowers, the incense of the
East, have attached themselves deeply to him: their effect and
expression rest now upon his flesh like the gleaming of that old
ambrosial ointment of which Homer speaks as resting ever on the
persons of the gods, and cling to his clothing--the mitre binding his
perfumed yellow hair--the long tunic down to the white feet, somewhat
womanly, and the fawn-skin, with its rich spots, wrapped about the
shoulders.  As the door opens to admit him, the scented air of the
vineyards (for the vine-blossom has an exquisite perfume) blows
through; while the convolvulus on his mystic rod represents all
wreathing flowery things whatever, with or without fruit, as in
America all such plants are still called vines.  "Sweet upon the
mountains," the excitement of which he loves so deeply and to which
he constantly invites his followers--"sweet upon the mountains," and
profoundly amorous, his presence embodies all the voluptuous
abundance of Asia, its beating [63] sun, its "fair-towered cities,
full of inhabitants," which the chorus describe in their luscious
vocabulary, with the rich Eastern names--Lydia, Persia, Arabia Felix:
he is a sorcerer or an enchanter, the tyrant Pentheus thinks: the
springs of water, the flowing of honey and milk and wine, are his
miracles, wrought in person.

We shall see presently how, writing for that northern audience,
Euripides crosses the Theban with the gloomier Thracian legend, and
lets the darker stain show through.  Yet, from the first, amid all
this floweriness, a touch or trace of that gloom is discernible.  The
fawn-skin, composed now so daintily over the shoulders, may be worn
with the whole coat of the animal made up, the hoofs gilded and tied
together over the right shoulder, to leave the right arm disengaged
to strike, its head clothing the human head within, as Alexander, on
some of his coins, looks out from the elephant's scalp, and Hercules
out of the jaws of a lion, on the coins of Camarina.  Those
diminutive golden horns attached to the forehead, represent not
fecundity merely, nor merely the crisp tossing of the waves of
streams, but horns of offence.  And our fingers must beware of the
thyrsus, tossed about so wantonly by himself and his chorus.  The
pine-cone at its top does but cover a spear-point; and the thing is a
weapon--the sharp spear of the hunter Zagreus--though hidden now by
the fresh leaves, and that button of pine-cone (useful also to dip in
[64] wine, to check the sweetness) which he has plucked down, coming
through the forest, at peace for a while this spring morning.

And the chorus emphasise this character, their songs weaving for the
whole piece, in words more effective than any painted scenery, a
certain congruous background which heightens all; the intimate sense
of mountains and mountain things being in this way maintained
throughout, and concentrated on the central figure.  "He is sweet
among the mountains," they say, "when he drops down upon the plain,
out of his mystic musings"--and we may think we see the green
festoons of the vine dropping quickly, from foot-place to foot-place,
down the broken hill-side in spring, when like the Bacchanals, all
who can, wander out of the town to enjoy the earliest heats.  "Let us
go out into the fields," we say; a strange madness seems to lurk
among the flowers, ready to lay hold on us also; autika ga pasa
choreusei+--soon the whole earth will dance and sing.

Dionysus is especially a woman's deity, and he comes from the east
conducted by a chorus of gracious Lydian women, his true sisters--
Bassarids, clad like himself in the long tunic, or bassara.  They
move and speak to the music of clangorous metallic instruments,
cymbals and tambourines, relieved by the clearer notes of the pipe;
and there is a strange variety of almost imitative sounds for such
music, in their very [65] words.  The Homeric hymn to Demeter
precedes the art of sculpture, but is rich in suggestions for it;
here, on the contrary, in the first chorus of the Bacchanals, as
elsewhere in the play, we feel that the poetry of Euripides is
probably borrowing something from art; that in these choruses, with
their repetitions and refrains, he is reproducing perhaps the spirit
of some sculptured relief which, like Luca della Robbia's celebrated
work for the organ-loft of the cathedral of Florence, worked by
various subtleties of line, not in the lips and eyes only, but in the
drapery and hands also, to a strange reality of impression of musical
effect on visible things.

They beat their drums before the palace; and then a humourous little
scene, a reflex of the old Dionysiac comedy--of that laughter which
was an essential element of the earliest worship of Dionysus--follows
the first chorus.  The old blind prophet Teiresias, and the aged king
Cadmus, always secretly true to him, have agreed to celebrate the
Thiasus, and accept his divinity openly.  The youthful god has
nowhere said decisively that he will have none but young men in his
sacred dance.  But for that purpose they must put on the long tunic,
and that spotted skin which only rustics wear, and assume the thyrsus
and ivy-crown.  Teiresias arrives and is seen knocking at the doors.
And then, just as in the medieval mystery, comes the [66] inevitable
grotesque, not unwelcome to our poet, who is wont in his plays,
perhaps not altogether consciously, to intensify by its relief both
the pity and the terror of his conceptions.  At the summons of
Teiresias, Cadmus appears, already arrayed like him in the appointed
ornaments, in all their odd contrast with the infirmity and staidness
of old age.  Even in old men's veins the spring leaps again, and they
are more than ready to begin dancing.  But they are shy of the
untried dress, and one of them is blind--poi dei choreuein; poi
kathistanai poda; kai krata seisai polion;+ and then the difficulty
of the way! the long, steep journey to the glens! may pilgrims boil
their peas? might they proceed to the place in carriages?  At last,
while the audience laugh more or less delicately at their aged
fumblings, in some co-operative manner, the eyes of the one combining
with the hands of the other, the pair are about to set forth.

Here Pentheus is seen approaching the palace in extreme haste.  He
has been absent from home, and returning, has just heard of the state
of things at Thebes--the strange malady of the women, the dancings,
the arrival of the mysterious stranger: he finds all the women
departed from the town, and sees Cadmus and Teiresias in masque.
Like the exaggerated diabolical figures in some of the religious
plays and imageries of the Middle Age, he is an impersonation of
stupid impiety, one of those whom the gods willing to [67] destroy
first infatuate.  Alternating between glib unwisdom and coarse
mockery, between violence and a pretence of moral austerity, he
understands only the sorriest motives; thinks the whole thing
feigned, and fancies the stranger, so effeminate, so attractive of
women with whom he remains day and night, but a poor sensual
creature, and the real motive of the Bacchic women the indulgence of
their lust; his ridiculous old grandfather he is ready to renounce,
and accuses Teiresias of having in view only some fresh source of
professional profit to himself in connexion with some new-fangled
oracle; his petty spite avenges itself on the prophet by an order to
root up the sacred chair, where he sits to watch the birds for
divination, and disturb the order of his sacred place; and even from
the moment of his entrance the mark of his doom seems already set
upon him, in an impotent trembling which others notice in him.  Those
of the women who still loitered, he has already caused to be shut up
in the common prison; the others, with Ino, Autonoe, and his own
mother, Agave, he will hunt out of the glens; while the stranger is
threatened with various cruel forms of death.  But Teiresias and
Cadmus stay to reason with him, and induce him to abide wisely with
them; the prophet fittingly becomes the interpreter of Dionysus, and
explains the true nature of the visitor; his divinity, the completion
or counterpart of that of Demeter; his gift of prophecy; [68] all the
soothing influences he brings with him; above all, his gift of the
medicine of sleep to weary mortals.  But the reason of Pentheus is
already sickening, and the judicial madness gathering over it.
Teiresias and Cadmus can but "go pray."  So again, not without the
laughter of the audience, supporting each other a little grotesquely
against a fall, they get away at last.

And then, again, as in those quaintly carved and coloured imageries
of the Middle Age--the martyrdom of the youthful Saint Firmin, for
instance, round the choir at Amiens--comes the full contrast, with a
quite medieval simplicity and directness, between the insolence of
the tyrant, now at last in sight of his prey, and the outraged beauty
of the youthful god, meek, surrounded by his enemies, like some fair
wild creature in the snare of the hunter.  Dionysus has been taken
prisoner; he is led on to the stage, with his hands bound, but still
holding the thyrsus.  Unresisting he had submitted himself to his
captors; his colour had not changed; with a smile he had bidden them
do their will, so that even they are touched with awe, and are almost
ready to admit his divinity.  Marvellously white and red, he stands
there; and now, unwilling to be revealed to the unworthy, and
requiring a fitness in the receiver, he represents himself, in answer
to the inquiries of Pentheus, not as Dionysus, but simply as the
god's prophet, [69] in full trust in whom he desires to hear his
sentence.  Then the long hair falls to the ground under the shears;
the mystic wand is torn from his hand, and he is led away to be tied
up, like some dangerous wild animal, in a dark place near the king's
stables.

Up to this point in the play, there has been a noticeable ambiguity
as to the person of Dionysus, the main figure of the piece; he is in
part Dionysus, indeed; but in part, only his messenger, or minister
preparing his way; a certain harshness of effect in the actual
appearance of a god upon the stage being in this way relieved, or
made easy, as by a gradual revelation in two steps.  To Pentheus, in
his invincible ignorance, his essence remains to the last unrevealed,
and even the women of the chorus seem to understand in him, so far,
only the forerunner of their real leader.  As he goes away bound,
therefore, they too, threatened also in their turn with slavery,
invoke his greater original to appear and deliver them.  In pathetic
cries they reproach Thebes for rejecting them--ti m' anainei, ti me
pheugeis;+ yet they foretell his future greatness; a new Orpheus, he
will more than renew that old miraculous reign over animals and
plants.  Their song is full of suggestions of wood and river.  It is
as if, for a moment, Dionysus became the suffering vine again; and
the rustle of the leaves and water come through their words to
refresh it.  The [70] fountain of Dirce still haunted by the virgins
of Thebes, where the infant god was cooled and washed from the flecks
of his fiery birth, becomes typical of the coolness of all springs,
and is made, by a really poetic licence, the daughter of the distant
Achelous--the earliest born, the father in myth, of all Greek rivers.

A giddy sonorous scene of portents and surprises follows--a distant,
exaggerated, dramatic reflex of that old thundering tumult of the
festival in the vineyard--in which Dionysus reappears, miraculously
set free from his bonds.  First, in answer to the deep-toned
invocation of the chorus, a great voice is heard from within,
proclaiming him to be the son of Semele and Zeus.  Then, amid the
short, broken, rapturous cries of the women of the chorus,
proclaiming him master, the noise of an earthquake passes slowly; the
pillars of the palace are seen waving to and fro; while the strange,
memorial fire from the tomb of Semele blazes up and envelopes the
whole building.  The terrified women fling themselves on the ground;
and then, at last, as the place is shaken open, Dionysus is seen
stepping out from among the tottering masses of the mimic palace,
bidding them arise and fear not.  But just here comes a long pause in
the action of the play, in which we must listen to a messenger newly
arrived from the glens, to tell us what he has seen there, among the
Maenads.  The singular, somewhat sinister beauty of this speech, and
a [71] similar one subsequent--a fair description of morning on the
mountain-tops, with the Bacchic women sleeping, which turns suddenly
to a hard, coarse picture of animals cruelly rent--is one of the
special curiosities which distinguish this play; and, as it is wholly
narrative, I shall give it in English prose, abbreviating, here and
there, some details which seem to have but a metrical value:--

"I was driving my herd of cattle to the summit of the scaur to feed,
what time the sun sent forth his earliest beams to warm the earth.
And lo! three companies of women, and at the head of one of them
Autonoe, thy mother Agave at the head of the second, and Ino at the
head of the third.  And they all slept, with limbs relaxed, leaned
against the low boughs of the pines, or with head thrown heedlessly
among the oak-leaves strewn upon the ground--all in the sleep of
temperance, not, as thou saidst, pursuing Cypris through the
solitudes of the forest, drunken with wine, amid the low rustling of
the lotus-pipe.

"And thy mother, when she heard the lowing of the kine, stood up in
the midst of them, and cried to them to shake off sleep.  And they,
casting slumber from their eyes, started upright, a marvel of beauty
and order, young and old and maidens yet unmarried.  And first, they
let fall their hair upon their shoulders; and those [72] whose
cinctures were unbound re-composed the spotted fawn-skins, knotting
them about with snakes, which rose and licked them on the chin.
Some, lately mothers, who with breasts still swelling had left their
babes behind, nursed in their arms antelopes, or wild whelps of
wolves, and yielded them their milk to drink; and upon their heads
they placed crowns of ivy or of oak, or of flowering convolvulus.
Then one, taking a thyrsus-wand, struck with it upon a rock, and
thereupon leapt out a fine rain of water; another let down a reed
upon the earth, and a fount of wine was sent forth there; and those
whose thirst was for a white stream, skimming the surface with their
finger-tips, gathered from it abundance of milk; and from the ivy of
the mystic wands streams of honey distilled.  Verily! hadst thou seen
these things, thou wouldst have worshipped whom now thou revilest.

"And we shepherds and herdsmen came together to question with each
other over this matter--what strange and terrible things they do.
And a certain wayfarer from the city, subtle in speech, spake to us--
'O! dwellers upon these solemn ledges of the hills, will ye that we
hunt down, and take, amid her revelries, Agave, the mother of
Pentheus, according to the king's pleasure?'  And he seemed to us to
speak wisely; and we lay in wait among the bushes; and they, at the
time appointed, began moving their wands for the Bacchic dance, [73]
calling with one voice upon Bromius!--Iacchus!--the son of Zeus! and
the whole mountain was moved with ecstasy together, and the wild
creatures; nothing but was moved in their running.  And it chanced
that Agave, in her leaping, lighted near me, and I sprang from my
hiding-place, willing to lay hold on her; and she groaned out, 'O!
dogs of hunting, these fellows are upon our traces; but follow me!
follow! with the mystic wands for weapons in your hands.'  And we, by
flight, hardly escaped tearing to pieces at their hands, who
thereupon advanced with knifeless fingers upon the young of the kine,
as they nipped the green; and then hadst thou seen one holding a
bleating calf in her hands, with udder distent, straining it asunder;
others tore the heifers to shreds amongst them; tossed up and down
the morsels lay in sight--flank or hoof--or hung from the fir-trees,
dropping churned blood.  The fierce, horned bulls stumbled forward,
their breasts upon the ground, dragged on by myriad hands of young
women, and in a moment the inner parts were rent to morsels.  So,
like a flock of birds aloft in flight, they retreat upon the level
lands outstretched below, which by the waters of Asopus put forth the
fair-flowering crop of Theban people--Hysiae and Erythrae--below the
precipice of Cithaeron."--

A grotesque scene follows, in which the [74] humour we noted, on
seeing those two old men diffidently set forth in chaplet and fawn-
skin, deepens into a profound tragic irony.  Pentheus is determined
to go out in arms against the Bacchanals and put them to death, when
a sudden desire seizes him to witness them in their encampment upon
the mountains.  Dionysus, whom he still supposes to be but a prophet
or messenger of the god, engages to conduct him thither; and, for
greater security among the dangerous women, proposes that he shall
disguise himself in female attire.  As Pentheus goes within for that
purpose, he lingers for a moment behind him, and in prophetic speech
declares the approaching end;--the victim has fallen into the net;
and he goes in to assist at the toilet, to array him in the ornaments
which he will carry to Hades, destroyed by his own mother's hands.
It is characteristic of Euripides--part of his fine tact and
subtlety--to relieve and justify what seems tedious, or constrained,
or merely terrible and grotesque, by a suddenly suggested trait of
homely pathos, or a glimpse of natural beauty, or a morsel of form or
colour seemingly taken directly from picture or sculpture.  So here,
in this fantastic scene our thoughts are changed in a moment by
the singing of the chorus, and divert for a while to the dark-haired
tresses of the wood; the breath of the river-side is upon us; beside
it, a fawn escaped from the hunter's net is flying swiftly in [75]
its joy; like it, the Maenad rushes along; and we see the little head
thrown back upon the neck, in deep aspiration, to drink in the dew.

Meantime, Pentheus has assumed his disguise, and comes forth tricked
up with false hair and the dress of a Bacchanal; but still with some
misgivings at the thought of going thus attired through the streets
of Thebes, and with many laughable readjustments of the unwonted
articles of clothing.  And with the woman's dress, his madness is
closing faster round him; just before, in the palace, terrified at
the noise of the earthquake, he had drawn sword upon a mere fantastic
appearance, and pierced only the empty air.  Now he begins to see the
sun double, and Thebes with all its towers repeated, while his
conductor seems to him transformed into a wild beast; and now and
then, we come upon some touches of a curious psychology, so that we
might almost seem to be reading a modern poet.  As if Euripides had
been aware of a not unknown symptom of incipient madness (it is said)
in which the patient, losing the sense of resistance, while lifting
small objects imagines himself to be raising enormous weights,
Pentheus, as he lifts the thyrsus, fancies he could lift Cithaeron
with all the Bacchanals upon it.  At all this the laughter of course
will pass round the theatre; while those who really pierce into the
purpose of the poet, shudder, as they see the victim thus grotesquely
clad going to his doom, [76] already foreseen in the ominous chant of
the chorus--and as it were his grave-clothes, in the dress which
makes him ridiculous.

Presently a messenger arrives to announce that Pentheus is dead, and
then another curious narrative sets forth the manner of his death.
Full of wild, coarse, revolting details, of course not without
pathetic touches, and with the loveliness of the serving Maenads, and
of their mountain solitudes--their trees and water--never quite
forgotten, it describes how, venturing as a spy too near the sacred
circle, Pentheus was fallen upon, like a wild beast, by the mystic
huntresses and torn to pieces, his mother being the first to begin
"the sacred rites of slaughter."

And at last Agave herself comes upon the stage, holding aloft the
head of her son, fixed upon the sharp end of the thyrsus, calling
upon the women of the chorus to welcome the revel of the Evian god;
who, accordingly, admit her into the company, professing themselves
her fellow-revellers, the Bacchanals being thus absorbed into the
chorus for the rest of the play.  For, indeed, all through it, the
true, though partly suppressed relation of the chorus to the
Bacchanals is this, that the women of the chorus, staid and temperate
for the moment, following Dionysus in his alternations, are but the
paler sisters of his more wild and gloomy votaries--the true
followers of the mystical Dionysus--the real chorus of Zagreus; the
idea that their [77] violent proceedings are the result of madness
only, sent on them as a punishment for their original rejection of
the god, being, as I said, when seen from the deeper motives of the
myth, only a "sophism" of Euripides--a piece of rationalism of which
he avails himself for the purpose of softening down the tradition of
which he has undertaken to be the poet.  Agave comes on the stage,
then, blood-stained, exulting in her "victory of tears," still quite
visibly mad indeed, and with the outward signs of madness, and as her
mind wanders, musing still on the fancy that the dead head in her
hands is that of a lion she has slain among the mountains--a young
lion, she avers, as she notices the down on the young man's chin, and
his abundant hair--a fancy in which the chorus humour her, willing to
deal gently with the poor distraught creature.  Supported by them,
she rejoices "exceedingly, exceedingly," declaring herself
"fortunate" in such goodly spoil; priding herself that the victim has
been slain, not with iron weapons, but with her own white fingers,
she summons all Thebes to come and behold.  She calls for her aged
father to draw near and see; and for Pentheus himself, at last, that
he may mount and rivet her trophy, appropriately decorative there,
between the triglyphs of the cornice below the roof, visible to all.

And now, from this point onwards, Dionysus himself becomes more and
more clearly discernible [78] as the hunter, a wily hunter, and man
the prey he hunts for; "Our king is a hunter," cry the chorus, as
they unite in Agave's triumph and give their sanction to her deed.
And as the Bacchanals supplement the chorus, and must be added to it
to make the conception of it complete; so in the conception of
Dionysus also a certain transference, or substitution, must be made--
much of the horror and sorrow of Agave, of Pentheus, of the whole
tragic situation, must be transferred to him, if we wish to realise
in the older, profounder, and more complete sense of his nature, that
mystical being of Greek tradition to whom all these experiences--his
madness, the chase, his imprisonment and death, his peace again--
really belong; and to discern which, through Euripides' peculiar
treatment of his subject, is part of the curious interest of this
play.

Through the sophism of Euripides!  For that, again, is the really
descriptive word, with which Euripides, a lover of sophisms, as
Aristophanes knows, himself supplies us.  Well;--this softened
version of the Bacchic madness is a sophism of Euripides; and
Dionysus Omophagus--the eater of raw flesh, must be added to the
golden image of Dionysus Meilichius--the honey-sweet, if the old
tradition in its completeness is to be, in spite of that sophism, our
closing impression; if we are to catch, in its fulness, that deep
undercurrent of horror which runs below, all through [79] this masque
of spring, and realise the spectacle of that wild chase, in which
Dionysus is ultimately both the hunter and the spoil.

But meantime another person appears on the stage; Cadmus enters,
followed by attendants bearing on a bier the torn limbs of Pentheus,
which lying wildly scattered through the tangled wood, have been with
difficulty collected and now decently put together and covered over.
In the little that still remains before the end of the play, destiny
now hurrying things rapidly forward, and strong emotions, hopes and
forebodings being now closely packed, Euripides has before him an
artistic problem of enormous difficulty.  Perhaps this very haste and
close-packing of the matter, which keeps the mind from dwelling
overmuch on detail, relieves its real extravagance, and those who
read it carefully will think that the pathos of Euripides has been
equal to the occasion.  In a few profoundly designed touches he
depicts the perplexity of Cadmus, in whose house a god had become an
inmate, only to destroy it--the regret of the old man for the one
male child to whom that house had looked up as the pillar whereby
aged people might feel secure; the piteous craziness of Agave; the
unconscious irony with which she caresses the florid, youthful head
of her son; the delicate breaking of the thing to her reviving
intelligence, as Cadmus, though he can but wish that she might live
on for ever in her visionary enjoyment, [80] prepares the way, by
playing on that other horrible legend of the Theban house, the
tearing of Actaeon to death--he too destroyed by a god.  He gives us
the sense of Agave's gradual return to reason through many glimmering
doubts, till she wakes up at last to find the real face turned up
towards the mother and murderess; the quite naturally spontaneous
sorrow of the mother, ending with her confession, down to her last
sigh, and the final breaking up of the house of Cadmus; with a result
so genuine, heartfelt, and dignified withal in its expression of a
strange ineffable woe, that a fragment of it, the lamentation of
Agave over her son, in which the long-pent agony at last finds vent,
were, it is supposed, adopted into his paler work by an early
Christian poet, and have figured since, as touches of real fire, in
the Christus Patiens of Gregory Nazianzen.

NOTES

64. +Transliteration: autika ga pasa choreusei.  E-text editor's
translation: "Straightway all the earth shall dance."  Euripides,
Bacchae 114.  Euripidis Fabulae, ed. Gilbert Murray, vol. 3.
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913.

66. +Transliteration: poi dei choreuein; poi kathistanai poda; kai
krata seisai polion.  Translation: "Where must I dance?  Where must
I stand and shake my white locks?"  Euripides, Bacchae 184-85.
Euripidis Fabulae, ed. Gilbert Murray, vol. 3.  Oxford: Clarendon
Press, 1913.

69. +Transliteration: ti m' anainei, ti me pheugeis.  Translation:
"Why do you reject me, why do you run from me?" Bacchae 519. Euripidis
Fabulae, ed. Gilbert Murray, vol. 3.  Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913.



THE MYTH OF DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE: I

[81] No chapter in the history of human imagination is more curious
than the myth of Demeter, and Kore or Persephone.  Alien in some
respects from the genuine traditions of Greek mythology, a relic of
the earlier inhabitants of Greece, and having but a subordinate place
in the religion of Homer, it yet asserted its interest, little by
little, and took a complex hold on the minds of the Greeks, becoming
finally the central and most popular subject of their national
worship.  Following its changes, we come across various phases of
Greek culture, which are not without their likenesses in the modern
mind.  We trace it in the dim first period of instinctive popular
conception; we see it connecting itself with many impressive elements
of art, and poetry, and religious custom, with the picturesque
superstitions of the many, and with the finer intuitions of the few;
and besides this, it is in itself full of [82] interest and
suggestion, to all for whom the ideas of the Greek religion have any
real meaning in the modern world.  And the fortune of the myth has
not deserted it in later times.  In the year 1780, the long-lost text
of the Homeric Hymn to Demeter was discovered among the manuscripts
of the imperial library at Moscow; and, in our own generation, the
tact of an eminent student of Greek art, Sir Charles Newton, has
restored to the world the buried treasures of the little temple and
precinct of Demeter, at Cnidus, which have many claims to rank in the
central order of Greek sculpture.  The present essay is an attempt to
select and weave together, for those who are now approaching the
deeper study of Greek thought, whatever details in the development of
this myth, arranged with a view rather to a total impression than to
the debate of particular points, may seem likely to increase their
stock of poetical impressions, and to add to this some criticisms on
the expression which it has left of itself in extant art and poetry.

The central expression, then, of the story of Demeter and Persephone
is the Homeric hymn, to which Grote has assigned a date at least as
early as six hundred years before Christ. The one survivor of a whole
family of hymns on this subject, it was written, perhaps, for one of
those contests which took place on the seventh day of the Eleusinian
festival, and in which a bunch of [83] ears of corn was the prize;
perhaps, for actual use in the mysteries themselves, by the
Hierophantes, or Interpreter, who showed to the worshippers at
Eleusis those sacred places to which the poem contains so many
references.  About the composition itself there are many difficult
questions, with various surmises as to why it has remained only in
this unique manuscript of the end of the fourteenth century.
Portions of the text are missing, and there are probably some
additions by later hands; yet most scholars have admitted that it
possesses some of the true characteristics of the Homeric style, some
genuine echoes of the age immediately succeeding that which produced
the Iliad and the Odyssey.  Listen now to a somewhat abbreviated
version of it.

"I begin the song of Demeter"--says the prize-poet, or the
Interpreter, the Sacristan of the holy places--"the song of Demeter
and her daughter Persephone, whom Aidoneus carried away by the
consent of Zeus, as she played, apart from her mother, with the deep-
bosomed daughters of the Ocean, gathering flowers in a meadow of soft
grass--roses and the crocus and fair violets and flags, and
hyacinths, and, above all, the strange flower of the narcissus, which
the Earth, favouring the desire of Aidoneus, brought forth for the
first time, to snare the footsteps of the flower-like girl.  A
hundred [84] heads of blossom grew up from the roots of it, and the
sky and the earth and the salt wave of the sea were glad at the scent
thereof.  She stretched forth her hands to take the flower; thereupon
the earth opened, and the king of the great nation of the dead sprang
out with his immortal horses.  He seized the unwilling girl, and bore
her away weeping, on his golden chariot.  She uttered a shrill cry,
calling upon her father Zeus; but neither man nor god heard her
voice, nor even the nymphs of the meadow where she played; except
Hecate only, the daughter of Persaeus, sitting, as ever, in her cave,
half veiled with a shining veil, thinking delicate thoughts; she, and
the Sun also, heard her.

"So long as she could still see the earth, and the sky, and the sea
with the great waves moving, and the beams of the sun, and still
thought to see again her mother, and the race of the ever-living
gods, so long hope soothed her, in the midst of her grief.  The peaks
of the hills and the depths of the sea echoed her cry.  And the
mother heard it.  A sharp pain seized her at the heart; she plucked
the veil from her hair, and cast down the blue hood from her
shoulders, and fled forth like a bird, seeking Persephone over dry
land and sea.  But neither man nor god would tell her the truth; nor
did any bird come to her as a sure messenger.

"Nine days she wandered up and down upon the earth, having blazing
torches in her hands; [85] and, in her great sorrow, she refused to
taste of ambrosia, or of the cup of the sweet nectar, nor washed her
face.  But when the tenth morning came, Hecate met her, having a
light in her hands.  But Hecate had heard the voice only, and had
seen no one, and could not tell Demeter who had borne the girl away.
And Demeter said not a word, but fled away swiftly with her, having
the blazing torches in her hands, till they came to the Sun, the
watchman both of gods and men; and the goddess questioned him, and
the Sun told her the whole story.

"Then a more terrible grief took possession of Demeter, and, in her
anger against Zeus, she forsook the assembly of the gods and abode
among men, for a long time veiling her beauty under a worn
countenance, so that none who looked upon her knew her, until she
came to the house of Celeus, who was then king of Eleusis.  In her
sorrow, she sat down at the wayside by the virgin's well, where the
people of Eleusis come to draw water, under the shadow of an olive-
tree.  She seemed as an aged woman whose time of child-bearing is
gone by, and from whom the gifts of Aphrodite have been withdrawn,
like one of the hired servants, who nurse the children or keep house,
in kings' palaces.  And the daughters of Celeus, four of them, like
goddesses, possessing the flower of their youth, Callidice,
Cleisidice, Demo, and Callithoe the eldest of them, coming to draw
water that they [86] might bear it in their brazen pitchers to their
father's house, saw Demeter and knew her not.  The gods are hard for
men to recognise.

"They asked her kindly what she did there, alone; and Demeter
answered, dissemblingly, that she was escaped from certain pirates,
who had carried her from her home and meant to sell her as a slave.
Then they prayed her to abide there while they returned to the
palace, to ask their mother's permission to bring her home.

"Demeter bowed her head in assent; and they, having filled their
shining vessels with water, bore them away, rejoicing in their
beauty. They came quickly to their father's house, and told their
mother what they had seen and heard.  Their mother bade them return,
and hire the woman for a great price; and they, like the hinds or
young heifers leaping in the fields in spring, fulfilled with the
pasture, holding up the folds of their raiment, sped along the hollow
road-way, their hair, in colour like the crocus, floating about their
shoulders as they went.  They found the glorious goddess still
sitting by the wayside, unmoved.  Then they led her to their father's
house; and she, veiled from head to foot, in her deep grief, followed
them on the way, and her blue robe gathered itself as she walked, in
many folds about her feet.  They came to the house, and passed
through the sunny porch, where their mother, Metaneira, was [87]
sitting against one of the pillars of the roof, having a young child
in her bosom.  They ran up to her; but Demeter crossed the threshold,
and, as she passed through, her head rose and touched the roof, and
her presence filled the doorway with a divine brightness.

"Still they did not wholly recognise her.  After a time she was made
to smile.  She refused to drink wine, but tasted of a cup mingled of
water and barley, flavoured with mint.  It happened that Metaneira
had lately borne a child.  It had come beyond hope, long after its
elder brethren, and was the object of a peculiar tenderness and of
many prayers with all.  Demeter consented to remain, and become the
nurse of this child.  She took the child in her immortal hands, and
placed it in her fragrant bosom; and the heart of the mother
rejoiced.  Thus Demeter nursed Demophoon.  And the child grew like a
god, neither sucking the breast, nor eating bread; but Demeter daily
anointed it with ambrosia, as if it had indeed been the child of a
god, breathing sweetly over it and holding it in her bosom; and at
nights, when she lay alone with the child, she would hide it secretly
in the red strength of the fire, like a brand; for her heart yearned
towards it, and she would fain have given to it immortal youth.

"But the foolishness of his mother prevented it.  For a suspicion
growing up within her, she awaited her time, and one night peeped in
upon [88] them, and thereupon cried out in terror at what she saw.
And the goddess heard her; and a sudden anger seizing her, she
plucked the child from the fire and cast it on the ground,--the child
she would fain have made immortal, but who must now share the common
destiny of all men, though some inscrutable grace should still be
his, because he had lain for awhile on the knees and in the bosom of
the goddess.

"Then Demeter manifested herself openly.  She put away the mask of
old age, and changed her form, and the spirit of beauty breathed
about her.  A fragrant odour fell from her raiment, and her flesh
shone from afar; the long yellow hair descended waving over her
shoulders, and the great house was filled as with the brightness of
lightning.  She passed out through the halls; and Metaneira fell to
the earth, and was speechless for a long time, and remembered not to
lift the child from the ground.  But the sisters, hearing its piteous
cries, leapt from their beds and ran to it.  Then one of them lifted
the child from the earth, and wrapped it in her bosom, and another
hastened to her mother's chamber to awake her: they came round the
child, and washed away the flecks of the fire from its panting body,
and kissed it tenderly all about: but the anguish of the child ceased
not; the arms of other and different nurses were about to enfold it.

"So, all night, trembling with fear, they [89] sought to propitiate
the glorious goddess; and in the morning they told all to their
father, Celeus.  And he, according to the commands of the goddess,
built a fair temple; and all the people assisted; and when it was
finished every man departed to his own home.  Then Demeter returned,
and sat down within the temple-walls, and remained still apart from
the company of the gods, alone in her wasting regret for her daughter
Persephone.

"And, in her anger, she sent upon the earth a year of grievous
famine.  The dry seed remained hidden in the soil; in vain the oxen
drew the ploughshare through the furrows; much white seed-corn fell
fruitless on the earth, and the whole human race had like to have
perished, and the gods had no more service of men, unless Zeus had
interfered.  First he sent Iris, afterwards all the gods, one by one,
to turn Demeter from her anger; but none was able to persuade her;
she heard their words with a hard countenance, and vowed by no means
to return to Olympus, nor to yield the fruit of the earth, until her
eyes had seen her lost daughter again.  Then, last of all, Zeus sent
Hermes into the kingdom of the dead, to persuade Aidoneus to suffer
his bride to return to the light of day.  And Hermes found the king
at home in his palace, sitting on a couch, beside the shrinking
Persephone, consumed within herself by desire for her mother.  A
doubtful smile passed over [90] the face of Aidoneus; yet he obeyed
the message, and bade Persephone return; yet praying her a little to
have gentle thoughts of him, nor judge him too hardly, who was also
an immortal god.  And Persephone arose up quickly in great joy; only,
ere she departed, he caused her to eat a morsel of sweet pomegranate,
designing secretly thereby, that she should not remain always upon
earth, but might some time return to him.  And Aidoneus yoked the
horses to his chariot; and Persephone ascended into it; and Hermes
took the reins in his hands and drove out through the infernal halls;
and the horses ran willingly; and they two quickly passed over the
ways of that long journey, neither the waters of the sea, nor of the
rivers, nor the deep ravines of the hills, nor the cliffs of the
shore, resisting them; till at last Hermes placed Persephone before
the door of the temple where her mother was; who, seeing her, ran out
quickly to meet her, like a Maenad coming down a mountain-side, dusky
with woods.

"So they spent all that day together in intimate communion, having
many things to hear and tell.  Then Zeus sent to them Rhea, his
venerable mother, the oldest of divine persons, to bring them back
reconciled, to the company of the gods; and he ordained that
Persephone should remain two parts of the year with her mother, and
one third part only with her husband, in the kingdom of the dead.  So
Demeter suffered [91] the earth to yield its fruits once more, and
the land was suddenly laden with leaves and flowers and waving corn.
Also she visited Triptolemus and the other princes of Eleusis, and
instructed them in the performance of her sacred rites,--those
mysteries of which no tongue may speak.  Only, blessed is he whose
eyes have seen them; his lot after death is not as the lot of other
men!"

In the story of Demeter, as in all Greek myths, we may trace the
action of three different influences, which have moulded it with
varying effects, in three successive phases of its development.
There is first its half-conscious, instinctive, or mystical, phase,
in which, under the form of an unwritten legend, living from mouth to
mouth, and with details changing as it passes from place to place,
there lie certain primitive impressions of the phenomena of the
natural world.  We may trace it next in its conscious, poetical or
literary, phase, in which the poets become the depositaries of the
vague instinctive product of the popular imagination, and handle it
with a purely literary interest, fixing its outlines, and simplifying
or developing its situations.  Thirdly, the myth passes into the
ethical phase, in which the persons and the incidents of the poetical
narrative are realised as abstract symbols, because intensely
characteristic examples, of moral or spiritual conditions. [92]
Behind the adventures of the stealing of Persephone and the
wanderings of Demeter in search of her, as we find them in the
Homeric hymn, we may discern the confused conception, under which
that early age, in which the myths were first created, represented to
itself those changes in physical things, that order of summer and
winter, of which it had no scientific, or systematic explanation, but
in which, nevertheless, it divined a multitude of living agencies,
corresponding to those ascertained forces, of which our colder modern
science tells the number and the names.  Demeter--Demeter and
Persephone, at first, in a sort of confused union--is the earth, in
the fixed order of its annual changes, but also in all the accident
and detail of the growth and decay of its children.  Of this
conception, floating loosely in the air, the poets of a later age
take possession; they create Demeter and Persephone as we know them
in art and poetry.  From the vague and fluctuating union, in which
together they had represented the earth and its changes, the mother
and the daughter define themselves with special functions, and with
fixed, well-understood relationships, the incidents and emotions of
which soon weave themselves into a pathetic story.  Lastly, in
proportion as the literary or aesthetic activity completes the
picture or the poem, the ethical interest makes itself felt.  These
strange persons--Demeter and Persephone--these marvellous incidents--
the translation into Hades, the seeking [93] of Demeter, the return
of Persephone to her,--lend themselves to the elevation and
correction of the sentiments of sorrow and awe, by the presentment to
the senses and the imagination of an ideal expression of them.
Demeter cannot but seem the type of divine grief.  Persephone is the
goddess of death, yet with a promise of life to come.  Those three
phases, then, which are more or less discernible in all mythical
development, and constitute a natural order in it, based on the
necessary conditions of human apprehension, are fixed more plainly,
perhaps, than in any other passage of Greek mythology in the story of
Demeter.  And as the Homeric hymn is the central expression of its
literary or poetical phase, so the marble remains, of which I shall
have to speak by and bye, are the central extant illustration of what
I have called its ethical phase.

Homer, in the Iliad, knows Demeter, but only as the goddess of the
fields, the originator and patroness of the labours of the
countryman, in their yearly order.  She stands, with her hair yellow
like the ripe corn, at the threshing-floor, and takes her share in
the toil, the heap of grain whitening, as the flails, moving in the
wind, disperse the chaff.  Out in the fresh fields, she yields to the
embraces of Iasion, to the extreme jealousy of Zeus, who slays her
mortal lover with lightning.  The flowery town of Pyrasus--the wheat-
town,--an ancient place in Thessaly, is her sacred precinct.  But
when [94] Homer gives a list of the orthodox gods, her name is not
mentioned.

Homer, in the Odyssey, knows Persephone also, but not as Kore; only
as the queen of the dead--epainê Persephonê+--dreadful Persephone, the
goddess of destruction and death, according to the apparent import of
her name.+  She accomplishes men's evil prayers; she is the mistress
and manager of men's shades, to which she can dispense a little more
or less of life, dwelling in her mouldering palace on the steep shore
of the Oceanus, with its groves of barren willows and tall poplars.
But that Homer knew her as the daughter of Demeter there are no
signs; and of his knowledge of the rape of Persephone there is only
the faintest sign,--he names Hades by the golden reins of his
chariot, and his beautiful horses.

The main theme, then, the most characteristic peculiarities, of the
story, as subsequently developed, are not to be found, expressly, in
the true Homer.  We have in him, on the one hand, Demeter, as the
perfectly fresh and blithe goddess of the fields, whose children, if
she has them, must be as the perfectly discreet and peaceful,
unravished Kore; on the other hand, we have Persephone, as the wholly
terrible goddess of death, who brings to Ulysses the querulous
shadows of the dead, and has the head of the gorgon Medusa in her
keeping.  And it is only when these two contrasted images have been
[95] brought into intimate relationship, only when Kore and
Persephone have been identified, that the deeper mythology of Demeter
begins.

This combination has taken place in Hesiod; and in three lines of the
Theogony we find the stealing of Persephone by Aidoneus,*--one of
those things in Hesiod, perhaps, which are really older than Homer.
Hesiod has been called the poet of helots, and is thought to have
preserved some of the traditions of those earlier inhabitants of
Greece who had become a kind of serfs; and in a certain shadowiness
in his conceptions of the gods, contrasting with the concrete and
heroic forms of the gods of Homer, we may perhaps trace something of
the quiet unspoken brooding of a subdued people--of that silently
dreaming temper to which the story of Persephone properly belongs.
However this may be, it is in Hesiod that the two images,
unassociated in Homer--the goddess of summer and the goddess of
death, Kore and Persephone--are identified with much significance;
and that strange, dual being makes her first appearance, whose latent
capabilities the poets afterwards developed; among the rest, a
peculiar blending of those two contrasted aspects, full of purpose
for the duly chastened intelligence; death, resurrection,
rejuvenescence.--Awake, and sing, ye that dwell in the dust!

[96] Modern science explains the changes of the natural world by the
hypothesis of certain unconscious forces; and the sum of these
forces, in their combined action, constitutes the scientific
conception of nature.  But, side by side with the growth of this more
mechanical conception, an older and more spiritual, Platonic,
philosophy has always maintained itself, a philosophy more of
instinct than of the understanding, the mental starting-point of
which is not an observed sequence of outward phenomena, but some such
feeling as most of us have on the first warmer days in spring, when
we seem to feel the genial processes of nature actually at work; as
if just below the mould, and in the hard wood of the trees, there
were really circulating some spirit of life, akin to that which makes
its energies felt within ourselves.  Starting with a hundred
instincts such as this, that older unmechanical, spiritual, or
Platonic, philosophy envisages nature rather as the unity of a living
spirit or person, revealing itself in various degrees to the kindred
spirit of the observer, than as a system of mechanical forces.  Such
a philosophy is a systematised form of that sort of poetry (we may
study it, for instance, either in Shelley or in Wordsworth), which
also has its fancies of a spirit of the earth, or of the sky,--a
personal intelligence abiding in them, the existence of which is
assumed in every suggestion such poetry makes to us of a sympathy
between the ways [97] and aspects of outward nature and the moods of
men.  And what stood to the primitive intelligence in place of such
metaphysical conceptions were those cosmical stories or myths, such
as this of Demeter and Persephone, which springing up spontaneously
in many minds, came at last to represent to them, in a certain number
of sensibly realised images, all they knew, felt, or fancied, of the
natural world about them.  The sky in its unity and its variety,--the
sea in its unity and its variety,--mirrored themselves respectively
in these simple, but profoundly impressible spirits, as Zeus, as
Glaucus or Poseidon.  And a large part of their experience--all, that
is, that related to the earth in its changes, the growth and decay of
all things born of it--was covered by the story of Demeter, the myth
of the earth as a mother.  They thought of Demeter as the old Germans
thought of Hertha, or the later Greeks of Pan, as the Egyptians
thought of Isis, the land of the Nile, made green by the streams of
Osiris, for whose coming Isis longs, as Demeter for Persephone; thus
naming together in her all their fluctuating thoughts, impressions,
suspicions, of the earth and its appearances, their whole complex
divination of a mysterious life, a perpetual working, a continuous
act of conception there.  Or they thought of the many-coloured earth
as the garment of Demeter, as the great modern pantheist poet speaks
of it as the "garment of God."  Its [98] brooding fertility; the
spring flowers breaking from its surface, the thinly disguised
unhealthfulness of their heavy perfume, and of their chosen places of
growth; the delicate, feminine, Prosperina-like motion of all growing
things; its fruit, full of drowsy and poisonous, or fresh, reviving
juices; its sinister caprices also, its droughts and sudden volcanic
heats; the long delays of spring; its dumb sleep, so suddenly flung
away; the sadness which insinuates itself into its languid
luxuriance; all this grouped itself round the persons of Demeter and
her circle.  They could turn always to her, from the actual earth
itself, in aweful yet hopeful prayer, and a devout personal
gratitude, and explain it through her, in its sorrow and its promise,
its darkness and its helpfulness to man.

The personification of abstract ideas by modern painters or
sculptors, of wealth, of commerce, of health, for instance, shocks,
in most cases, the aesthetic sense, as something conventional or
rhetorical, as a mere transparent allegory, or figure of speech,
which could please almost no one.  On the other hand, such symbolical
representations, under the form of human persons, as Giotto's Virtues
and Vices at Padua, or his Saint Poverty at Assisi, or the series of
the planets in certain early Italian engravings, are profoundly
poetical and impressive.  They seem to be something more than mere
symbolism, [99] and to be connected with some peculiarly sympathetic
penetration, on the part of the artist, into the subjects he intended
to depict.  Symbolism intense as this, is the creation of a special
temper, in which a certain simplicity, taking all things literally,
au pied de la lettre, is united to a vivid pre-occupation with the
aesthetic beauty of the image itself, the figured side of figurative
expression, the form of the metaphor.  When it is said, "Out of his
mouth goeth a sharp sword," that temper is ready to deal directly and
boldly with that difficult image, like that old designer of the
fourteenth century, who has depicted this, and other images of the
Apocalypse, in a coloured window at Bourges.  Such symbolism cares a
great deal for the hair of Temperance, discreetly bound, for some
subtler likeness to the colour of the sky in the girdle of Hope, for
the inwoven flames in the red garment of Charity.  And what was
specially peculiar to the temper of the old Florentine painter,
Giotto, to the temper of his age in general, doubtless, more than to
that of ours, was the persistent and universal mood of the age in
which the story of Demeter and Persephone was first created.  If some
painter of our own time has conceived the image of The Day so
intensely, that we hardly think of distinguishing between the image,
with its girdle of dissolving morning mist, and the meaning of the
image; if William Blake, to our so great delight, makes the morning
stars [100] literally "sing together,"--these fruits of individual
genius are in part also a "survival" from a different age, with the
whole mood of which this mode of expression was more congruous than
it is with ours.  But there are traces of the old temper in the man
of to-day also; and through these we can understand that earlier
time--a very poetical time, with the more highly gifted peoples--in
which every impression men received of the action of powers without
or within them suggested to them the presence of a soul or will, like
their own--a person, with a living spirit, and senses, and hands, and
feet; which, when it talked of the return of Kore to Demeter, or the
marriage of Zeus and Here, was not using rhetorical language, but
yielding to a real illusion; to which the voice of man "was really a
stream, beauty an effluence, death a mist."

The gods of Greek mythology overlap each other; they are confused or
connected with each other, lightly or deeply, as the case may be, and
sometimes have their doubles, at first sight as in a troubled dream,
yet never, when we examine each detail more closely, without a
certain truth to human reason.  It is only in a limited sense that it
is possible to lift, and examine by itself, one thread of the network
of story and imagery, which, in a certain age of civilisation, wove
itself over every detail of life and thought, over every name in the
past, and almost every place in [101] Greece.  The story of Demeter,
then, was the work of no single author or place or time; the poet of
its first phase was no single person, but the whole consciousness of
an age, though an age doubtless with its differences of more or less
imaginative individual minds--with one, here or there, eminent,
though but by a little, above a merely receptive majority, the
spokesman of a universal, though faintly-felt prepossession,
attaching the errant fancies of the people around him to definite
names and images.  The myth grew up gradually, and at many distant
places, in many minds, independent of each other, but dealing in a
common temper with certain elements and aspects of the natural world,
as one here, and another there, seemed to catch in that incident or
detail which flashed more incisively than others on the inward eye,
some influence, or feature, or characteristic of the great mother.
The various epithets of Demeter, the local variations of her story,
its incompatible incidents, bear witness to the manner of its
generation.  They illustrate that indefiniteness which is
characteristic of Greek mythology, a theology with no central
authority, no link on historic time, liable from the first to an
unobserved transformation.  They indicate the various, far-distant
spots from which the visible body of the goddess slowly collected its
constituents, and came at last to have a well-defined existence in
the popular mind.  In this sense, Demeter appears to one in [102] her
anger, sullenly withholding the fruits of the earth, to another in
her pride of Persephone, to another in her grateful gift of the arts
of agriculture to man; at last only, is there a general recognition
of a clearly-arrested outline, a tangible embodiment, which has
solidified itself in the imagination of the people, they know not
how.

The worship of Demeter belongs to that older religion, nearer to the
earth, which some have thought they could discern, behind the more
definitely national mythology of Homer.  She is the goddess of dark
caves, and is not wholly free from monstrous form.  She gave men the
first fig in one place, the first poppy in another; in another, she
first taught the old Titans to mow.  She is the mother of the vine
also; and the assumed name by which she called herself in her
wanderings, is Dôs--a gift; the crane, as the harbinger of rain, is
her messenger among the birds.  She knows the magic powers of certain
plants, cut from her bosom, to bane or bless; and, under one of her
epithets, herself presides over the springs, as also coming from the
secret places of the earth.  She is the goddess, then, at first, of
the fertility of the earth in its wildness; and so far, her
attributes are to some degree confused with those of the Thessalian
Gaia and the Phrygian Cybele.  Afterwards, and it is now that her
most characteristic attributes begin to concentrate themselves, [103]
she separates herself from these confused relationships, as specially
the goddess of agriculture, of the fertility of the earth when
furthered by human skill.  She is the preserver of the seed sown in
hope, under many epithets derived from the incidents of vegetation,
as the simple countryman names her, out of a mind full of the various
experiences of his little garden or farm.  She is the most definite
embodiment of all those fluctuating mystical instincts, of which
Gaia,* the mother of the earth's gloomier offspring, is a vaguer and
mistier one.  There is nothing of the confused outline, the mere
shadowiness of mystical dreaming, in this most concrete human figure.
No nation, less aesthetically gifted than the Greeks, could have thus
lightly thrown its mystical surmise and divination into images so
clear and idyllic as those of the solemn goddess of the country, in
whom the characteristics of the mother are expressed with so much
tenderness, and the "beauteous head" of Kore, then so fresh and
peaceful.

In this phase, then, the story of Demeter appears as the peculiar
creation of country-people of a high impressibility, dreaming over
their work in spring or autumn, half consciously touched by a sense
of its sacredness, and a sort of [104] mystery about it.  For there
is much in the life of the farm everywhere which gives to persons of
any seriousness of disposition, special opportunity for grave and
gentle thoughts.  The temper of people engaged in the occupations of
country life, so permanent, so "near to nature," is at all times
alike; and the habitual solemnity of thought and expression which
Wordsworth found in the peasants of Cumberland, and the painter
François Millet in the peasants of Brittany, may well have had its
prototype in early Greece.  And so, even before the development, by
the poets, of their aweful and passionate story, Demeter and
Persephone seem to have been pre-eminently the venerable, or aweful,
goddesses.  Demeter haunts the fields in spring, when the young lambs
are dropped; she visits the barns in autumn; she takes part in mowing
and binding up the corn, and is the goddess of sheaves.  She presides
over all the pleasant, significant details of the farm, the
threshing-floor and the full granary, and stands beside the woman
baking bread at the oven.  With these fancies are connected certain
simple rites; the half-understood local observance, and the half-
believed local legend, reacting capriciously on each other.  They
leave her a fragment of bread and a morsel of meat, at the cross-
roads, to take on her journey; and perhaps some real Demeter carries
them away, as she wanders through the country.  The incidents of
their yearly labour become to [105] them acts of worship; they seek
her blessing through many expressive names, and almost catch sight of
her, at dawn or evening, in the nooks of the fragrant fields.  She
lays a finger on the grass at the road-side, and some new flower
comes up.  All the picturesque implements of country life are hers;
the poppy also, emblem of an inexhaustible fertility, and full of
mysterious juices for the alleviation of pain.  The countrywoman who
puts her child to sleep in the great, cradle-like, basket, for
winnowing the corn, remembers Demeter Courotrophos, the mother of
corn and children alike, and makes it a little coat out of the dress
worn by its father at his initiation into her mysteries.  Yet she is
an angry goddess too, sometimes--Demeter Erinnys, the goblin of the
neighbourhood, haunting its shadowy places.  She lies on the ground
out of doors on summer nights, and becomes wet with the dew.  She
grows young again every spring, yet is of great age, the wrinkled
woman of the Homeric hymn, who becomes the nurse of Demophoon.  Other
lighter, errant stories nest themselves, as time goes on, within the
greater.  The water-newt, which repels the lips of the traveller who
stoops to drink, is a certain urchin, Abas, who spoiled by his
mockery the pleasure of the thirsting goddess, as she drank once of a
wayside spring in her wanderings.  The night-owl is the transformed
Ascalabus, who alone had seen Persephone eat that morsel [106] of
pomegranate, in the garden of Aidoneus.  The bitter wild mint was
once a girl, who for a moment had made her jealous, in Hades.

The episode of Triptolemus, to whom Demeter imparts the mysteries of
the plough, like the details of some sacred rite, that he may bear
them abroad to all people, embodies, in connexion with her, another
group of the circumstances of country life.  As with all the other
episodes of the story, there are here also local variations,
traditions of various favourites of the goddess at different places,
of whom grammarians can tell us, finally obscured behind the greater
fame of Triptolemus of Eleusis.  One might fancy, at first, that
Triptolemus was a quite Boeotian divinity, of the ploughshare.  Yet
we know that the thoughts of the Greeks concerning the culture of the
earth from which they came, were most often noble ones; and if we
examine carefully the works of ancient art which represent him, the
second thought will suggest itself, that there was nothing clumsy or
coarse about this patron of the plough--something, rather, of the
movement of delicate wind or fire, about him and his chariot.  And
this finer character is explained, if, as we are justified in doing,
we bring him into closest connexion with that episode, so full of a
strange mysticism, of the Nursing of Demophoon, in the Homeric hymn.
For, according to some traditions, none other [107] than Triptolemus
himself was the subject of that mysterious experiment, in which
Demeter laid the child nightly, in the red heat of the fire; and he
lives afterwards, not immortal indeed, not wholly divine, yet, as
Shakspere says, a "nimble spirit," feeling little of the weight of
the material world about him--the element of winged fire in the clay.
The delicate, fresh, farm-lad we may still actually see sometimes,
like a graceful field-flower among the corn, becomes, in the sacred
legend of agriculture, a king's son; and then, the fire having
searched out from him the grosser elements on that famous night, all
compact now of spirit, a priest also, administering the gifts of
Demeter to all the earth.  Certainly, the extant works of art which
represent him, gems or vase-paintings, conform truly enough to this
ideal of a "nimble spirit," though he wears the broad country hat,
which Hermes also wears, going swiftly, half on the airy, mercurial
wheels of his farm instrument, harrow or plough--half on wings of
serpents--the worm, symbolical of the soil, but winged, as sending up
the dust committed to it, after subtle firing, in colours and odours
of fruit and flowers.  It is an altogether sacred character, again,
that he assumes in another precious work, of the severer period of
Greek art, lately discovered at Eleusis, and now preserved in the
museum of Athens, a singularly refined bas-relief, in which he
stands, a firm and serious youth, between Demeter and [108]
Persephone, who places her hand as with some sacred influence, and
consecrating gesture, upon him.

But the house of the prudent countryman will be, of course, a place
of honest manners; and Demeter Thesmophoros is the guardian of
married life, the deity of the discretion of wives.  She is therefore
the founder of civilised order.  The peaceful homes of men, scattered
about the land, in their security--Demeter represents these fruits of
the earth also, not without a suggestion of the white cities, which
shine upon the hills above the waving fields of corn, seats of
justice and of true kingship.  She is also in a certain sense the
patron of travellers, having, in her long wanderings after
Persephone, recorded and handed down those omens, caught from little
things--the birds which crossed her path, the persons who met her on
the way, the words they said, the things they carried in their hands,
einodia symbola+--by noting which, men bring their journeys to a
successful end; so that the simple countryman may pass securely on
his way; and is led by signs from the goddess herself, when he
travels far to visit her, at Hermione or Eleusis.

So far the attributes of Demeter and Kore are similar.  In the
mythical conception, as in the religious acts connected with it, the
mother and the daughter are almost interchangeable; [109] they are
the two goddesses, the twin-named.  Gradually, the office of
Persephone is developed, defines itself; functions distinct from
those of Demeter are attributed to her.  Hitherto, always at the side
of Demeter and sharing her worship, she now appears detached from
her, going and coming, on her mysterious business.  A third part of
the year she abides in darkness; she comes up in the spring; and
every autumn, when the countryman sows his seed in the earth, she
descends thither again, and the world of the dead lies open, spring
and autumn, to let her in and out.  Persephone, then, is the summer-
time, and, in this sense, a daughter of the earth; but the summer as
bringing winter; the flowery splendour and consummated glory of the
year, as thereafter immediately beginning to draw near to its end, as
the first yellow leaf crosses it, in the first severer wind.  She is
the last day of spring, or the first day of autumn, in the threefold
division of the Greek year.  Her story is, indeed, but the story, in
an intenser form, of Adonis, of Hyacinth, of Adrastus--the king's
blooming son, fated, in the story of Herodotus, to be wounded to
death with an iron spear--of Linus, a fair child who is torn to
pieces by hounds every spring-time--of the English Sleeping Beauty.
From being the goddess of summer and the flowers, she becomes the
goddess of night and sleep and death, confuseable with Hecate, the
goddess of midnight [110] terrors--Korê arrêtos,+ the mother of the
Erinnyes, who appeared to Pindar, to warn him of his approaching
death, upbraiding him because he had made no hymn in her praise,
which swan's song he thereupon began, but finished with her.  She is
a twofold goddess, therefore, according as one or the other of these
two contrasted aspects of her nature is seized, respectively.  A
duality, an inherent opposition in the very conception of Persephone,
runs all through her story, and is part of her ghostly power.  There
is ever something in her of a divided or ambiguous identity: hence
the many euphemisms of later language concerning her.

The "worship of sorrow," as Goethe called it, is sometimes supposed
to have had almost no place in the religion of the Greeks.  Their
religion has been represented as a religion of mere cheerfulness, the
worship by an untroubled, unreflecting humanity, conscious of no
deeper needs, of the embodiments of its own joyous activity.  It
helped to hide out of their sight those traces of decay and
weariness, of which the Greeks were constitutionally shy, to keep
them from peeping too curiously into certain shadowy places,
appropriate enough to the gloomy imagination of the middle age; and
it hardly proposed to itself to give consolation to people who, in
truth, were never "sick or sorry."  But this familiar view of Greek
religion is based on a consideration of a part only of what is known
[111] concerning it, and really involves a misconception, akin to
that which underestimates the influence of the romantic spirit
generally, in Greek poetry and art; as if Greek art had dealt
exclusively with human nature in its sanity, suppressing all motives
of strangeness, all the beauty which is born of difficulty,
permitting nothing but an Olympian, though perhaps somewhat wearisome
calm.  In effect, such a conception of Greek art and poetry leaves in
the central expressions of Greek culture none but negative qualities;
and the legend of Demeter and Persephone, perhaps the most popular of
all Greek legends, is sufficient to show that the "worship of sorrow"
was not without its function in Greek religion; their legend is a
legend made by and for sorrowful, wistful, anxious people; while the
most important artistic monuments of that legend sufficiently prove
that the Romantic spirit was really at work in the minds of Greek
artists, extracting by a kind of subtle alchemy, a beauty, not
without the elements of tranquillity, of dignity and order, out of a
matter, at first sight painful and strange.

The student of origins, as French critics say, of the earliest stages
of art and poetry, must be content to follow faint traces; and in
what has been here said, much may seem to have been made of little,
with too much completion, by a general framework or setting, of what
after [112] all are but doubtful or fragmentary indications.  Yet
there is a certain cynicism too, in that over-positive temper, which
is so jealous of our catching any resemblance in the earlier world to
the thoughts that really occupy our own minds, and which, in its
estimate of the actual fragments of antiquity, is content to find no
seal of human intelligence upon them.  Slight indeed in themselves,
these fragmentary indications become suggestive of much, when viewed
in the light of such general evidence about the human imagination as
is afforded by the theory of "comparative mythology," or what is
called the theory of "animism."  Only, in the application of these
theories, the student of Greek religion must never forget that, after
all, it is with poetry, not with systematic theological belief or
dogma, that he has to do.  As regards this story of Demeter and
Persephone, what we actually possess is some actual fragments of
poetry, some actual fragments of sculpture; and with a curiosity,
justified by the direct aesthetic beauty of these fragments, we feel
our way backwards to that engaging picture of the poet-people, with
which the ingenuity of modern theory has filled the void in our
knowledge.  The abstract poet of that first period of mythology,
creating in this wholly impersonal, intensely spiritual way,--the
abstract spirit of poetry itself, rises before the mind; and, in
speaking of this poetical age, we must take heed, before all things,
in no sense to misconstrue the poets.

NOTES

94. +Transliteration: epainê Persephonê.  Translation: "dread
Persephone."  See, for example, Odyssey, Book 10.490 and 563.

94. +"According to the apparent import of her name"; Pater likely
refers to the etymology of "Persophone"--"bringer of destruction."

95. *Theogony, 912-14:

+Transliteration:

Autar ho Dêmêtros polyphorbês es lechos êlthen
ê teke Persephonên leukôlenon, hên Aidôneus
hêrpasen hês para mêtros, edôke de mêtieta Zeus.

+Translation: "And he came to bountiful Demeter’s bed, / and she
gave birth to white-armed Persephone, whom Aidoneus / took from her
mother’s side; but Zeus, wise counsellor, gave her to him."  Hesiod.
The Homeric Hymns and Homerica.  Theogony.  Cambridge, MA., Harvard
University Press.  London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1914.

103. *In the Homeric hymn, pre-eminently, of the flower which grew up
for the first time, to snare the footsteps of Kore, the fair but
deadly Narcissus, the flower of narkê, the numbness of death.

108. +Transliteration: einodia symbola.  Translation: "signs along
the roadside."

110. +Transliteration: Korê arrêtos.  Translation: "Korê the
mysterious, the horrible ."



THE MYTH OF DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE: II

[113] THE stories of the Greek mythology, like other things which
belong to no man, and for which no one in particular is responsible,
had their fortunes.  In that world of floating fancies there was a
struggle for life; there were myths which never emerged from that
first stage of popular conception, or were absorbed by stronger
competitors, because, as some true heroes have done, they lacked the
sacred poet or prophet, and were never remodelled by literature;
while, out of the myth of Demeter, under the careful conduct of
poetry and art, came the little pictures, the idylls, of the Homeric
hymn, and the gracious imagery of Praxiteles.  The myth has now
entered its second or poetical phase, then, in which more definite
fancies are grouped about the primitive stock, in a conscious
literary temper, and the whole interest settles round the images of
the beautiful girl going down into the darkness, and the weary woman
who seeks her lost daughter--divine persons, then sincerely believed
in by the majority of the Greeks.  The Homeric hymn [114] is the
central monument of this second phase.  In it, the changes of the
natural year have become a personal history, a story of human
affection and sorrow, yet with a far-reaching religious significance
also, of which the mere earthly spring and autumn are but an analogy;
and in the development of this human element, the writer of the hymn
sometimes displays a genuine power of pathetic expression.  The whole
episode of the fostering of Demophoon, in which over the body of the
dying child human longing and regret are blent so subtly with the
mysterious design of the goddess to make the child immortal, is an
excellent example of the sentiment of pity in literature.  Yet though
it has reached the stage of conscious literary interpretation, much
of its early mystical or cosmical character still lingers about the
story, as it is here told.  Later mythologists simply define the
personal history; but in this hymn we may, again and again, trace
curious links of connexion with the original purpose of the myth.
Its subject is the weary woman, indeed, our Lady of Sorrows, the
mater dolorosa of the ancient world, but with a certain latent
reference, all through, to the mystical person of the earth.  Her
robe of dark blue is the raiment of her mourning, but also the blue
robe of the earth in shadow, as we see it in Titian's landscapes; her
great age is the age of the immemorial earth; she becomes a nurse,
therefore, holding Demophoon in her bosom; [115] the folds of her
garment are fragrant, not merely with the incense of Eleusis, but
with the natural perfume of flowers and fruit.  The sweet breath with
which she nourishes the child Demophoon, is the warm west wind,
feeding all germs of vegetable life; her bosom, where he lies, is the
bosom of the earth, with its strengthening heat, reserved and shy,
offended if human eyes scrutinise too closely its secret chemistry;
it is with the earth's natural surface of varied colour that she has,
"in time past, given pleasure to the sun"; the yellow hair which
falls suddenly over her shoulders, at her transformation in the house
of Celeus, is still partly the golden corn;--in art and poetry she is
ever the blond goddess; tarrying in her temple, of which an actual
hollow in the earth is the prototype, among the spicy odours of the
Eleusinian ritual, she is the spirit of the earth, lying hidden in
its dark folds until the return of spring, among the flower-seeds and
fragrant roots, like the seeds and aromatic woods hidden in the
wrappings of the dead.  Throughout the poem, we have a sense of a
certain nearness to nature, surviving from an earlier world; the sea
is understood as a person, yet is still the real sea, with the waves
moving.  When it is said that no bird gave Demeter tidings of
Persephone, we feel that to that earlier world, ways of communication
between all creatures may have seemed open, which are closed to us.
It is Iris who brings to Demeter the message of Zeus; [116] that is,
the rainbow signifies to the earth the good-will of the rainy sky
towards it.  Persephone springing up with great joy from the couch of
Aidoneus, to return to her mother, is the sudden outburst of the
year.  The heavy and narcotic aroma of spring flowers hangs about
her, as about the actual spring.  And this mingling of the primitive
cosmical import of the myth with the later, personal interests of the
story, is curiously illustrated by the place which the poem assigns
to Hecate.  This strange Titaness is, first, a nymph only;
afterwards, as if changed incurably by the passionate cry of
Persephone, she becomes her constant attendant, and is even
identified with her.  But in the Homeric hymn her lunar character is
clear; she is really the moon only, who hears the cry of Persephone,
as the sun saw her, when Aidoneus carried her away.  One morning, as
the mother wandered, the moon appeared, as it does in its last
quarter, rising very bright, just before dawn; that is, in the words
of the Homeric hymn--"on the tenth morning Hecate met her, having a
light in her hands."  The fascinating, but enigmatical figure,
"sitting ever in her cave, half-veiled with a shining veil, thinking
delicate thoughts," in which we seem to see the subject of some
picture of the Italian Renaissance, is but the lover of Endymion--
like Persephone, withdrawn, in her season, from the eyes of men.  The
sun saw her; the moon saw her not, but heard her cry, and is [117]
ever after the half-veiled attendant of the queen of dreams and of
the dead.

But the story of Demeter and Persephone lends itself naturally to
description, and it is in descriptive beauties that the Homeric hymn
excels; its episodes are finished designs, and directly stimulate the
painter and the sculptor to a rivalry with them.  Weaving the names
of the flowers into his verse, names familiar to us in English,
though their Greek originals are uncertain, the writer sets
Persephone before us, herself like one of them--kalykôpis+--like the
budding calyx of a flower,--in a picture, which, in its mingling of a
quaint freshness and simplicity with a certain earnestness, reads
like a description of some early Florentine design, such as Sandro
Botticelli's Allegory of the Seasons.  By an exquisite chance also, a
common metrical expression connects the perfume of the newly-created
narcissus with the salt odour of the sea.  Like one of those early
designs also, but with a deeper infusion of religious earnestness, is
the picture of Demeter sitting at the wayside, in shadow as always,
with the well of water and the olive-tree.  She has been journeying
all night, and now it is morning, and the daughters of Celeus bring
their vessels to draw water.  That image of the seated Demeter,
resting after her long flight "through the dark continent," or in the
house of Celeus, when she refuses the red wine, or again, solitary,
in her newly-finished [118] temple of Eleusis, enthroned in her
grief, fixed itself deeply on the Greek imagination, and became a
favourite subject of Greek artists.  When the daughters of Celeus
come to conduct her to Eleusis, they come as in a Greek frieze, full
of energy and motion and waving lines, but with gold and colours upon
it.  Eleusis--coming--the coming of Demeter thither, as thus told in
the Homeric hymn, is the central instance in Greek mythology of such
divine appearances.  "She leaves for a season the company of the gods
and abides among men;" and men's merit is to receive her in spite of
appearances.  Metaneira and others, in the Homeric hymn, partly
detect her divine character; they find charis+;--a certain gracious
air--about her, which makes them think her, perhaps, a royal person
in disguise.  She becomes in her long wanderings almost wholly
humanised, and in return, she and Persephone, alone of the Greek
gods, seem to have been the objects of a sort of personal love and
loyalty.  Yet they are ever the solemn goddesses,--theai semnai,+
the word expressing religious awe, the Greek sense of the divine
presence.

Plato, in laying down the rules by which the poets are to be guided
in speaking about divine things to the citizens of the ideal
republic, forbids all those episodes of mythology which represent the
gods as assuming various forms, and visiting the earth in disguise.
Below the [119] express reasons which he assigns for this rule, we
may perhaps detect that instinctive antagonism to the old Heraclitean
philosophy of perpetual change, which forces him, in his theory of
morals and the state, of poetry and music, of dress and manners even,
and of style in the very vessels and furniture of daily life, on an
austere simplicity, the older Dorian or Egyptian type of a rigid,
eternal immobility.  The disintegrating, centrifugal influence, which
had penetrated, as he thought, political and social existence, making
men too myriad-minded, had laid hold on the life of the gods also,
and, even in their calm sphere, one could hardly identify a single
divine person as himself, and not another.  There must, then, be no
doubling, no disguises, no stories of transformation.  The modern
reader, however, will hardly acquiesce in this "improvement" of Greek
mythology.  He finds in these stories, like that, for instance, of
the appearance of Athene to Telemachus, in the first book of the
Odyssey, which has a quite biblical mysticity and solemnity,--stories
in which, the hard material outline breaking up, the gods lay aside
their visible form like a garment, yet remain essentially
themselves,--not the least spiritual element of Greek religion, an
evidence of the sense therein of unseen presences, which might at any
moment cross a man's path, to be recognised, in half disguise, by the
more delicately trained eye, here or there, by one and not by [120]
another.  Whatever religious elements they lacked, they had at least
this sense of subtler and more remote ways of personal presence.

And as there are traces in the Homeric hymn of the primitive cosmical
myth, relics of the first stage of the development of the story, so
also many of its incidents are probably suggested by the
circumstances and details of the Eleusinian ritual.  There were
religious usages before there were distinct religious conceptions,
and these antecedent religious usages shape and determine, at many
points, the ultimate religious conception, as the details of the myth
interpret or explain the religious custom.  The hymn relates the
legend of certain holy places, to which various impressive religious
rites had attached themselves--the holy well, the old fountain, the
stone of sorrow, which it was the office of the "interpreter" of the
holy places to show to the people.  The sacred way which led from
Athens to Eleusis was rich in such memorials.  The nine days of the
wanderings of Demeter in the Homeric hymn are the nine days of the
duration of the greater or autumnal mysteries; the jesting of the old
woman Iambe, who endeavours to make Demeter smile, are the customary
mockeries with which the worshippers, as they rested on the bridge,
on the seventh day of the feast, assailed those who passed by.  The
torches in the hands of Demeter are borrowed from the same source;
and the shadow in which she is [121] constantly represented, and
which is the peculiar sign of her grief, is partly ritual, and a
relic of the caves of the old Chthonian worship, partly poetical--
expressive, half of the dark earth to which she escapes from Olympus,
half of her mourning.  She appears consistently, in the hymn, as a
teacher of rites, transforming daily life, and the processes of life,
into a religious solemnity.  With no misgiving as to the proprieties
of a mere narration, the hymn-writer mingles these symbolical
imitations with the outlines of the original story; and, in his
Demeter, the dramatic person of the mysteries mixes itself with the
primitive mythical figure.  And the worshipper, far from being
offended by these interpolations, may have found a special
impressiveness in them, as they linked continuously its inner sense
with the outward imagery of the ritual.

And, as Demeter and her story embodied themselves gradually in the
Greek imagination, so these mysteries in which her worship found its
chief expression, grew up little by little, growing always in close
connexion with the modifications of the story, sometimes prompting
them, at other times suggested by them.  That they had a single
special author is improbable, and a mere invention of the Greeks,
ignorant of their real history and the general analogy of such
matters.  Here again, as in the story itself, the idea of
development, of degrees, of a slow [122] and natural growth, impeded
here, diverted there, is the illuminating thought which earlier
critics lacked.  "No tongue may speak of them," says the Homeric
hymn; and the secret has certainly been kept.  The antiquarian,
dealing, letter by letter, with what is recorded of them, has left
few certain data for the reflexion of the modern student of the Greek
religion; and of this, its central solemnity, only a fragmentary
picture can be made.  It is probable that these mysteries developed
the symbolical significance of the story of the descent into Hades,
the coming of Demeter to Eleusis, the invention of Persephone.  They
may or may not have been the vehicle of a secret doctrine, but were
certainly an artistic spectacle, giving, like the mysteries of the
middle age, a dramatic representation of the sacred story,--perhaps a
detailed performance, perhaps only such a conventional
representation, as was afforded for instance by the medieval
ceremonies of Palm Sunday; the whole, probably, centering in an image
of Demeter--the work of Praxiteles or his school, in ivory and gold.
There is no reason to suppose any specific difference between the
observances of the Eleusinian festival and the accustomed usages of
the Greek religion; nocturns, libations, quaint purifications,
processions--are common incidents of all Greek worship; in all
religious ceremonies there is an element of dramatic symbolism; and
what we really do see, through those scattered notices, [123] are
things which have their parallels in a later age, the whole being not
altogether unlike a modern pilgrimage.  The exposition of the sacred
places--the threshing-floor of Triptolemus, the rocky seat on which
Demeter had rested in her sorrow, the well of Callichorus--is not so
strange, as it would seem, had it no modern illustration.  The
libations, at once a watering of the vines and a drink-offering to
the dead--still needing men's services, waiting for purification
perhaps, or thirsting, like Dante's Adam of Brescia, in their close
homes--must, to almost all minds, have had a certain natural
impressiveness; and a parallel has sometimes been drawn between this
festival and All Souls' Day.

And who, everywhere, has not felt the mystical influence of that
prolonged silence, the mystic silence, from which the very word
"mystery" has its origin?  Something also there undoubtedly was,
which coarser minds might misunderstand.  On one day, the initiated
went in procession to the sea-coast, where they underwent a
purification by bathing in the sea.  On the fifth night there was the
torchlight procession; and, by a touch of real life in him, we gather
from the first page of Plato's Republic that such processions were
popular spectacles, having a social interest, so that people made
much of attending them.  There was the procession of the sacred
basket filled with poppy-seeds and pomegranates.  There was the day
of rest, after [124] the stress and excitement of the "great night."
On the sixth day, the image of Iacchus, son of Demeter, crowned with
myrtle and having a torch in its hand, was carried in procession,
through thousands of spectators, along the sacred way, amid joyous
shouts and songs.  We have seen such processions; we understand how
many different senses, and how lightly, various spectators may put on
them; how little definite meaning they may have even for those who
officiate in them.  Here, at least, there was the image itself, in
that age, with its close connexion between religion and art,
presumably fair.  Susceptibility to the impressions of religious
ceremonial must always have varied with the peculiarities of
individual temperament, as it varies in our own day; and Eleusis,
with its incense and sweet singing, may have been as little
interesting to the outward senses of some worshippers there, as the
stately and affecting ceremonies of the medieval church to many of
its own members.  In a simpler yet profounder sense than has
sometimes been supposed, these things were really addressed to the
initiated only.*

We have to travel a long way from the Homeric hymn to the hymn of
Callimachus, who writes in the end of Greek literature, in the third
century before Christ, in celebration of the procession of the sacred
basket of Demeter, not [125] at the Attic, but at the Alexandrian
Eleusinia.  He developes, in something of the prosaic spirit of a
medieval writer of "mysteries," one of the burlesque incidents of the
story, the insatiable hunger which seized on Erysichthon because he
cut down a grove sacred to the goddess.  Yet he finds his
opportunities for skilful touches of poetry;--"As the four white
horses draw her sacred basket," he says, "so will the great goddess
bring us a white spring, a white summer."  He describes the grove
itself, with its hedge of trees, so thick that an arrow could hardly
pass through, its pines and fruit-trees and tall poplars within, and
the water, like pale gold, running from the conduits.  It is one of
those famous poplars that receives the first stroke; it sounds
heavily to its companion trees, and Demeter perceives that her sacred
grove is suffering.  Then comes one of those transformations which
Plato will not allow.  Vainly anxious to save the lad from his ruin,
she appears in the form of a priestess, but with the long hood of the
goddess, and the poppy in her hand; and there is something of a real
shudder, some still surviving sense of a haunting presence in the
groves, in the verses which describe her sudden revelation, when the
workmen flee away, leaving their axes in the cleft trees.

Of the same age as the hymn of Callimachus, but with very different
qualities, is the idyll of Theocritus on the Shepherds' Journey.
Although it is possible to define an epoch in mythological [126]
development in which literary and artificial influences began to
remodel the primitive, popular legend, yet still, among children, and
unchanging childlike people, we may suppose that that primitive stage
always survived, and the old, instinctive influences were still at
work.  As the subject of popular religious celebrations also, the
myth was still the property of the people, and surrendered to its
capricious action.  The shepherds in Theocritus, on their way to
celebrate one of the more homely feasts of Demeter, about the time of
harvest, are examples of these childlike people; the age of the poets
has long since come, but they are of the older and simpler order,
lingering on in the midst of a more self-conscious world.  In an
idyll, itself full of the delightful gifts of Demeter, Theocritus
sets them before us; through the blazing summer day's journey, the
smiling image of the goddess is always before them; and now they have
reached the end of their journey:--

"So I, and Eucritus, and the fair Amyntichus, turned aside into the
house of Phrasidamus, and lay down with delight in beds of sweet
tamarisk and fresh cuttings from the vines, strewn on the ground.
Many poplars and elm-trees were waving over our heads, and not far
off the running of the sacred water from the cave of the nymphs
warbled to us; in the shimmering branches the sun-burnt grasshoppers
were busy with their talk, and from afar the little owl cried softly,
out of [127] the tangled thorns of the blackberry; the larks were
singing and the hedge-birds, and the turtle-dove moaned; the bees
flew round and round the fountains, murmuring softly; the scent of
late summer and of the fall of the year was everywhere; the pears
fell from the trees at our feet, and apples in number rolled down at
our sides, and the young plum-trees were bent to the earth with the
weight of their fruit.  The wax, four years old, was loosed from the
heads of the wine-jars.  O! nymphs of Castalia, who dwell on the
steeps of Parnassus, tell me, I pray you, was it a draught like this
that the aged Chiron placed before Hercules, in the stony cave of
Pholus?  Was it nectar like this that made the mighty shepherd on
Anapus' shore, Polyphemus, who flung the rocks upon Ulysses' ships,
dance among his sheepfolds?--A cup like this ye poured out now upon
the altar of Demeter, who presides over the threshing-floor.  May it
be mine, once more, to dig my big winnowing-fan through her heaps of
corn; and may I see her smile upon me, holding poppies and handfuls
of corn in her two hands!"

Some of the modifications of the story of Demeter, as we find it in
later poetry, have been supposed to be due, not to the genuine action
of the Greek mind, but to the influence of that so-called Orphic
literature, which, in the generation succeeding Hesiod, brought, from
Thessaly and Phrygia, a tide of mystical ideas into the Greek [128]
religion, sometimes, doubtless, confusing the clearness and
naturalness of its original outlines, but also sometimes imparting to
them a new and peculiar grace.  Under the influence of this Orphic
poetry, Demeter was blended, or identified, with Rhea Cybele, the
mother of the gods, the wilder earth-goddess of Phrygia; and the
romantic figure of Dionysus Zagreus, Dionysus the Hunter, that most
interesting, though somewhat melancholy variation on the better known
Dionysus, was brought, as son or brother of Persephone, into her
circle, the mystical vine, who, as Persephone descends and ascends
from the earth, is rent to pieces by the Titans every year and
remains long in Hades, but every spring-time comes out of it again,
renewing his youth.  This identification of Demeter with Rhea Cybele
is the motive which has inspired a beautiful chorus in the Helena--
the new Helena--of Euripides, that great lover of all subtle
refinements and modernisms, who, in this play, has worked on a
strange version of the older story, which relates that Helen had
never really gone to Troy at all, but sent her soul only there, apart
from her sweet body, which abode all that time in Egypt, at the court
of King Proteus, where she is found at last by her husband Menelaus,
so that the Trojan war was about a phantom, after all.  The chorus
has even less than usual to do with the action of the play, being
linked to it only by a sort of parallel, which may be understood,
[129] between Menelaus seeking Helen, and Demeter seeking Persephone.
Euripides, then, takes the matter of the Homeric hymn into the region
of a higher and swifter poetry, and connects it with the more
stimulating imagery of the Idaean mother.  The Orphic mysticism or
enthusiasm has been admitted into the story, which is now full of
excitement, the motion of rivers, the sounds of the Bacchic cymbals
heard over the mountains, as Demeter wanders among the woody valleys
seeking her lost daughter, all directly expressed in the vivid Greek
words.  Demeter is no longer the subdued goddess of the quietly-
ordered fields, but the mother of the gods, who has her abode in the
heights of Mount Ida, who presides over the dews and waters of the
white springs, whose flocks feed, not on grain, but on the curling
tendrils of the vine, both of which she withholds in her anger, and
whose chariot is drawn by wild beasts, fruit and emblem of the earth
in its fiery strength.  Not Hecate, but Pallas and Artemis, in full
armour, swift-footed, vindicators of chastity, accompany her in her
search for Persephone, who is already expressly, korê arrêtos+--"the
maiden whom none may name."  When she rests from her long wanderings,
it is into the stony thickets of Mount Ida, deep with snow, that she
throws herself, in her profound grief.  When Zeus desires to end her
pain, the Muses and the "solemn" Graces are sent to dance and sing
before her.  It is then [130] that Cypris, the goddess of beauty, and
the original cause, therefore, of her distress, takes into her hands
the brazen tambourines of the Dionysiac worship with their Chthonian
or deep-noted sound; and it is she, not the old Iambe, who with this
wild music, heard thus for the first time, makes Demeter smile at
last.  "Great," so the chorus ends with a picture, "great is the
power of the stoles of spotted fawn-skins, and the green leaves of
ivy twisted about the sacred wands, and the wheeling motion of the
tambourine whirled round in the air, and the long hair floating
unbound in honour of Bromius, and the nocturns of the goddess, when
the moon looks full upon them."

The poem of Claudian on the Rape of Proserpine, the longest extant
work connected with the story of Demeter, yet itself unfinished,
closes the world of classical poetry.  Writing in the fourth century
of the Christian era, Claudian has his subject before him in the
whole extent of its various development, and also profits by those
many pictorial representations of it, which, from the famous picture
of Polygnotus downwards, delighted the ancient world.  His poem,
then, besides having an intrinsic charm, is valuable for some
reflexion in it of those lost works, being itself pre-eminently a
work in colour, and excelling in a kind of painting in words, which
brings its subject very pleasantly almost to the eye of the reader.
The mind of this late votary [131] of the old gods, in a world
rapidly changing, is crowded with all the beautiful forms generated
by mythology, and now about to be forgotten.  In this after-glow of
Latin literature, lighted up long after their fortune had set, and
just before their long night began, they pass before us, in his
verses, with the utmost clearness, like the figures in an actual
procession.  The nursing of the infant Sun and Moon by Tethys;
Proserpine and her companions gathering flowers at early dawn, when
the violets are drinking in the dew, still lying white upon the
grass; the image of Pallas winding the peaceful blossoms about the
steel crest of her helmet; the realm of Proserpine, softened somewhat
by her coming, and filled with a quiet joy; the matrons of Elysium
crowding to her marriage toilet, with the bridal veil of yellow in
their hands; the Manes, crowned with ghostly flowers yet warmed a
little, at the marriage feast; the ominous dreams of the mother; the
desolation of the home, like an empty bird's-nest or an empty fold,
when she returns and finds Proserpine gone, and the spider at work
over her unfinished embroidery; the strangely-figured raiment, the
flowers in the grass, which were once blooming youths, having both
their natural colour and the colour of their poetry in them, and the
clear little fountain there, which was once the maiden Cyane;--all
this is shown in a series of descriptions, like the designs in some
unwinding tapestry, like Proserpine's own [132] embroidery, the
description of which is the most brilliant of these pictures, and, in
its quaint confusion of the images of philosophy with those of
mythology, anticipates something of the fancy of the Italian
Renaissance.

"Proserpina, filling the house soothingly with her low song, was
working a gift against the return of her mother, with labour all to
be in vain.  In it, she marked out with her needle the houses of the
gods and the series of the elements, showing by what law, nature, the
parent of all, settled the strife of ancient times, and the seeds of
things disparted into their places; the lighter elements are borne
aloft, the heavier fall to the centre; the air grows bright with
heat, a blazing light whirls round the firmament; the sea flows; the
earth hangs suspended in its place.  And there were divers colours in
it; she illuminated the stars with gold, infused a purple shade into
the water, and heightened the shore with gems of flowers; and, under
her skilful hand, the threads, with their inwrought lustre, swell up,
in momentary counterfeit of the waves; you might think that the sea-
wind flapped against the rocks, and that a hollow murmur came
creeping over the thirsty sands.  She puts in the five zones, marking
with a red ground the midmost zone, possessed by burning heat; its
outline was parched and stiff; the threads seemed thirsty with the
constant sunshine; on either side lay the two zones proper for human
life, [133] where a gentle temperance reigns; and at the extremes she
drew the twin zones of numbing cold, making her work dun and sad with
the hues of perpetual frost. She paints in, too, the sacred places of
Dis, her father's brother, and the Manes, so fatal to her; and an
omen of her doom was not wanting; for, as she worked, as if with
foreknowledge of the future, her face became wet with a sudden burst
of tears.  And now, in the utmost border of the tissue, she had begun
to wind in the wavy line of the river Oceanus, with its glassy
shallows; but the door sounds on its hinges, and she perceives the
goddesses coming; the unfinished work drops from her hands, and a
ruddy blush lights up in her clear and snow-white face."

I have reserved to the last what is perhaps the daintiest treatment
of this subject in classical literature, the account of it which Ovid
gives in the Fasti--a kind of Roman Calendar--for the seventh of
April, the day of the games of Ceres.  He tells over again the old
story, with much of which, he says, the reader will be already
familiar; but he has something also of his own to add to it, which
the reader will hear for the first time; and, like one of those old
painters who, in depicting a scene of Christian history, drew from
their own fancy or experience its special setting and accessories, he
translates the story into something very different from the Homeric
hymn.  The writer of the Homeric [134] hymn had made Celeus a king,
and represented the scene at Eleusis in a fair palace, like the
Venetian painters who depict the persons of the Holy Family with
royal ornaments.  Ovid, on the other hand, is more like certain
painters of the early Florentine school, who represent the holy
persons amid the more touching circumstances of humble life; and the
special something of his own which he adds, is a pathos caught from
homely things, not without a delightful, just perceptible, shade of
humour even, so rare in such work.  All the mysticism has
disappeared; but, instead, we trace something of that "worship of
sorrow," which has been sometimes supposed to have had no place in
classical religious sentiment.  In Ovid's well-finished elegiacs,
Persephone's flower-gathering, the Anthology, reaches its utmost
delicacy; but I give the following episode for the sake of its
pathetic expression.

"After many wanderings Ceres was come to Attica.  There, in the
utmost dejection, for the first time, she sat down to rest on a bare
stone, which the people of Attica still call the stone of sorrow.
For many days she remained there motionless, under the open sky,
heedless of the rain and of the frosty moonlight.  Places have their
fortunes; and what is now the illustrious town of Eleusis was then
the field of an old man named Celeus.  He was carrying home a load of
acorns, and wild berries shaken down from the [135] brambles, and dry
wood for burning on the hearth; his little daughter was leading two
goats home from the hills; and at home there was a little boy lying
sick in his cradle.  'Mother,' said the little girl--and the goddess
was moved at the name of mother--'what do you, all alone, in this
solitary place?'  The old man stopped too, in spite of his heavy
burden, and bade her take shelter in his cottage, though it was but a
little one.  But at first she refused to come; she looked like an
old woman, and an old woman's coif confined her hair; and as the man
still urged her, she said to him, 'Heaven bless you; and may children
always be yours!  My daughter has been stolen from me.  Alas! how
much happier is your lot than mine'; and, though weeping is
impossible for the gods, as she spoke, a bright drop, like a tear,
fell into her bosom.  Soft-hearted, the little girl and the old man
weep together.  And after that the good man said, 'Arise! despise not
the shelter of my little home; so may the daughter whom you seek be
restored to you.'  'Lead me,' answered the goddess; 'you have found
out the secret of moving me;' and she arose from the stone, and
followed the old man; and as they went he told her of the sick child
at home--how he is restless with pain, and cannot sleep.  And she,
before entering the little cottage, gathered from the untended earth
the soothing and sleep-giving poppy; and as she gathered it, it is
said that she [136] forgot her vow, and tasted of the seeds, and
broke her long fast, unaware.  As she came through the door, she saw
the house full of trouble, for now there was no more hope of life for
the sick boy.  She saluted the mother, whose name was Metaneira, and
humbly kissed the lips of the child, with her own lips; then the
paleness left its face, and suddenly the parents see the strength
returning to its body; so great is the force that comes from the
divine mouth.  And the whole family was full of joy--the mother and
the father and the little girl; they were the whole household.*

Three profound ethical conceptions, three impressive sacred figures,
have now defined themselves for the Greek imagination, condensed from
all the traditions which have now been traced, from the hymns of the
poets, from the instinctive and unformulated mysticism of primitive
minds.  Demeter is become the divine sorrowing mother.  Kore, the
goddess of summer, is become Persephone, the goddess of death, still
associated with the forms and odours of flowers and fruit, yet as one
risen from the dead also, presenting one side of her ambiguous nature
to men's gloomier fancies.  Thirdly, there is the image of Demeter
enthroned, chastened by sorrow, and somewhat advanced in age,
blessing the earth, in her joy at the return of Kore.  The myth has
[137] now entered on the third phase of its life, in which it becomes
the property of those more elevated spirits, who, in the decline of
the Greek religion, pick and choose and modify, with perfect freedom
of mind, whatever in it may seem adapted to minister to their
culture.  In this way, the myths of the Greek religion become parts
of an ideal, visible embodiments of the susceptibilities and
intuitions of the nobler kind of souls; and it is to this latest
phase of mythological development that the highest Greek sculpture
allies itself.  Its function is to give visible aesthetic expression
to the constituent parts of that ideal.  As poetry dealt chiefly with
the incidents of the story, so it is with the personages of the
story--with Demeter and Kore themselves--that sculpture has to do.

For the myth of Demeter, like the Greek religion in general, had its
unlovelier side, grotesque, unhellenic, unglorified by art,
illustrated well enough by the description Pausanias gives us of his
visit to the cave of the Black Demeter at Phigalia.  In his time the
image itself had vanished; but he tells us enough about it to enable
us to realise its general characteristics, monstrous as the special
legend with which it was connected, the black draperies, the horse's
head united to the woman's body, with the carved reptiles creeping
about it.  If, with the thought of this gloomy image of our mother
the earth, in our minds, we take up one of those coins [138] which
bear the image of Kore or Demeter,* we shall better understand what
the function of sculpture really was, in elevating and refining the
religious conceptions of the Greeks.  Looking on the profile, for
instance, on one of those coins of Messene, which almost certainly
represent Demeter, and noting the crisp, chaste opening of the lips,
the minutely wrought earrings, and the delicately touched ears of
corn,--this trifling object being justly regarded as, in its
aesthetic qualities, an epitome of art on a larger scale,--we shall
see how far the imagination of the Greeks had travelled from what
their Black Demeter shows us had once been possible for them, and in
making the gods of their worship the objects of a worthy
companionship in their thoughts.  Certainly, the mind of the old
workman who struck that coin was, if we may trust the testimony of
his work, unclouded by impure or gloomy shadows.  The thought of
Demeter is impressed here, with all the purity and proportion, the
purged and dainty intelligence of the human countenance.  The mystery
of it is indeed absent, perhaps could hardly have been looked for in
so slight a thing, intended for no sacred purpose, and tossed lightly
from hand to hand.  But in his firm hold on the harmonies of the
human face, the designer of this tranquil head of [139] Demeter is on
the one road to a command over the secrets of all imaginative pathos
and mystery; though, in the perfect fairness and blitheness of his
work, he might seem almost not to have known the incidents of her
terrible story.

It is probable that, at a later period than in other equally
important temples of Greece, the earlier archaic representation of
Demeter in the sanctuary of Eleusis, was replaced by a more beautiful
image in the new style, with face and hands of ivory, having
therefore, in tone and texture, some subtler likeness to women's
flesh, and the closely enveloping drapery being constructed in
daintily beaten plates of gold.  Praxiteles seems to have been the
first to bring into the region of a freer artistic handling these shy
deities of the earth, shrinking still within the narrow restraints of
a hieratic, conventional treatment, long after the more genuine
Olympians had broken out of them.  The school of Praxiteles, as
distinguished from that of Pheidias, is especially the school of
grace, relaxing a little the severe ethical tension of the latter, in
favour of a slightly Asiatic sinuosity and tenderness.  Pausanias
tells us that he carved the two goddesses for the temple of Demeter
at Athens; and Pliny speaks of two groups of his in brass, the one
representing the stealing of Persephone, the other her later, annual
descent into Hades, conducted thither by the now pacified mother.
All alike have perished; though perhaps some [140] more or less faint
reflexion of the most important of these designs may still be traced
on many painted vases which depict the stealing of Persephone,--a
helpless, plucked flower in the arms of Aidoneus.  And in this almost
traditional form, the subject was often represented, in low relief,
on tombs, some of which still remain; in one or two instances, built
up, oddly enough, in the walls of Christian churches.  On the tombs
of women who had died in early life, this was a favourite subject,
some likeness of the actual lineaments of the deceased being
sometimes transferred to the features of Persephone.

Yet so far, it might seem, when we consider the interest of this
story in itself, and its importance in the Greek religion, that no
adequate expression of it had remained to us in works of art.  But in
the year 1857, the discovery of the marbles, in the sacred precinct
of Demeter at Cnidus, restored to us an illustration of the myth in
its artistic phase, hardly less central than the Homeric hymn in its
poetical phase.  With the help of the descriptions and plans of Mr.
Newton's book,* we can form, as one always wishes to do in such
cases, a clear idea of the place where these marbles--three statues
of the best style of Greek sculpture, now in the British Museum--were
found.  Occupying a ledge of rock, looking towards the sea, at the
base of a [141] cliff of upheaved limestone, of singular steepness
and regularity of surface, the spot presents indications of volcanic
disturbance, as if a chasm in the earth had opened here.  It was this
character, suggesting the belief in an actual connexion with the
interior of the earth (local tradition claiming it as the scene of
the stealing of Persephone), which probably gave rise, as in other
cases where the landscape presented some peculiar feature in harmony
with the story, to the dedication upon it of a house and an image of
Demeter, with whom were associated Kore and "the gods with Demeter"--
hoi theoi para Damatri+--Aidoneus, and the mystical or Chthonian
Dionysus.  The house seems to have been a small chapel only, of
simple construction, and designed for private use, the site itself
having been private property, consecrated by a particular family, for
their own religious uses, although other persons, servants or
dependents of the founders, may also have frequented it.  The
architecture seems to have been insignificant, but the sculpture
costly and exquisite, belonging, if contemporary with the erection of
the building, to a great period of Greek art, of which also it is
judged to possess intrinsic marks--about the year 350 before Christ,
the probable date of the dedication of the little temple.  The
artists by whom these works were produced were, therefore, either the
contemporaries of Praxiteles, whose Venus was for many centuries the
glory of [142] Cnidus, or belonged to the generation immediately
succeeding him.  The temple itself was probably thrown down by a
renewal of the volcanic disturbances; the statues however remaining,
and the ministers and worshippers still continuing to make shift for
their sacred business in the place, now doubly venerable, but with
its temple unrestored, down to the second or third century of the
Christian era, its frequenters being now perhaps mere chance comers,
the family of the original donors having become extinct, or having
deserted it.  Into this later arrangement, clearly divined by Mr.
Newton, through those faint indications which mean much for true
experts, the extant remains, as they were found upon the spot, permit
us to enter.  It is one of the graves of that old religion, but with
much still fresh in it.  We see it with its provincial superstitions,
and its curious magic rites, but also with its means of really solemn
impressions, in the culminating forms of Greek art; the two faces of
the Greek religion confronting each other here, and the whole having
that rare peculiarity of a kind of personal stamp upon it, the place
having been designed to meet the fancies of one particular soul, or
at least of one family.  It is always difficult to bring the every-
day aspect of Greek religion home to us; but even the slighter
details of this little sanctuary help us to do this; and knowing so
little, as we do, of the greater mysteries of [143] Demeter, this
glance into an actual religious place dedicated to her, and with the
air of her worship still about it, is doubly interesting.  The little
votive figures of the goddesses, in baked earth, were still lying
stored in the small treasury intended for such objects, or scattered
about the feet of the images, together with lamps in great number, a
lighted lamp being a favourite offering, in memory of the torches
with which Demeter sought Persephone, or from some sense of inherent
darkness in these gods of the earth; those torches in the hands of
Demeter being indeed originally the artificial warmth and brightness
of lamp and fire, on winter nights.  The dirae or spells,--katadesmoi+-
-binding or devoting certain persons to the infernal gods, inscribed
on thin rolls of lead, with holes, sometimes, for hanging them up
about those quiet statues, still lay, just as they were left,
anywhere within the sacred precinct, illustrating at once the
gloomier side of the Greek religion in general, and of Demeter and
Persephone especially, in their character of avenging deities, and as
relics of ancient magic, reproduced so strangely at other times and
places, reminding us of the permanence of certain odd ways of human
thought.  A woman binds with her spell the person who seduces her
husband away from her and her children; another, the person who has
accused her of preparing poison for her husband; another devotes one
who has not restored a borrowed [144] garment, or has stolen a
bracelet, or certain drinking-horns; and, from some instances, we
might infer that this was a favourite place of worship for the poor
and ignorant.  In this living picture, we find still lingering on, at
the foot of the beautiful Greek marbles, that phase of religious
temper which a cynical mind might think a truer link of its unity and
permanence than any higher aesthetic instincts--a phase of it, which
the art of sculpture, humanising and refining man's conceptions of
the unseen, tended constantly to do away.  For the higher side of the
Greek religion, thus humanised and refined by art, and elevated by it
to the sense of beauty, is here also.

There were three ideal forms, as we saw, gradually shaping themselves
in the development of the story of Demeter, waiting only for complete
realisation at the hands of the sculptor; and now, with these forms
in our minds, let us place ourselves in thought before the three
images which once probably occupied the three niches or ambries in
the face of that singular cliff at Cnidus, one of them being then
wrought on a larger scale.  Of the three figures, one probably
represents Persephone, as the goddess of the dead; the second,
Demeter enthroned; the third is probably a portrait-statue of a
priestess of Demeter, but may perhaps, even so, represent Demeter
herself, Demeter Achaea, Ceres Deserta, the mater dolorosa of the
Greeks, a type not as yet [145] recognised in any other work of
ancient art.  Certainly, it seems hard not to believe that this work
is in some way connected with the legend of the place to which it
belonged, and the main subject of which it realises so completely;
and, at least, it shows how the higher Greek sculpture would have
worked out this motive.  If Demeter at all, it is Demeter the
seeker,--Dêô+--as she was called in the mysteries, in some pause of
her restless wandering over the world in search of the lost child,
and become at last an abstract type of the wanderer.  The Homeric
hymn, as we saw, had its sculptural motives, the great gestures of
Demeter, who was ever the stately goddess, as she followed the
daughters of Celeus, or sat by the well-side, or went out and in,
through the halls of the palace, expressed in monumental words.  With
the sentiment of that monumental Homeric presence this statue is
penetrated, uniting a certain solemnity of attitude and bearing, to a
profound piteousness, an unrivalled pathos of expression.  There is
something of the pity of Michelangelo's mater dolorosa, in the wasted
form and marred countenance, yet with the light breaking faintly over
it from the eyes, which, contrary to the usual practice in ancient
sculpture, are represented as looking upwards.  It is the aged woman
who has escaped from pirates, who has but just escaped being sold as
a slave, calling on the young for pity.  The sorrows of her long
wanderings seem to have passed into the marble; [146] and in this
too, it meets the demands which the reader of the Homeric hymn, with
its command over the resources of human pathos, makes upon the
sculptor.  The tall figure, in proportion above the ordinary height,
is veiled, and clad to the feet in the longer tunic, its numerous
folds hanging in heavy parallel lines, opposing the lines of the
peplus, or cloak, which cross it diagonally over the breast,
enwrapping the upper portion of the body somewhat closely.  It is the
very type of the wandering woman, going grandly, indeed, as Homer
describes her, yet so human in her anguish, that we seem to recognise
some far descended shadow of her, in the homely figure of the roughly
clad French peasant woman, who, in one of Corot's pictures, is
hasting along under a sad light, as the day goes out behind the
little hill.  We have watched the growth of the merely personal
sentiment in the story; and we may notice that, if this figure be
indeed Demeter, then the conception of her has become wholly
humanised; no trace of the primitive cosmical import of the myth, no
colour or scent of the mystical earth, remains about it.

The seated figure, much mutilated, and worn by long exposure, yet
possessing, according to the best critics, marks of the school of
Praxiteles, is almost undoubtedly the image of Demeter enthroned.
Three times in the Homeric hymn she is represented as sitting, once
by the fountain at the wayside, again in the house of Celeus, and
[147] again in the newly finished temple of Eleusis; but always in
sorrow; seated on the petra agelastos,+ which, as Ovid told us, the
people of Attica still called the stone of sorrow.  Here she is
represented in her later state of reconciliation, enthroned as the
glorified mother of all things.  The delicate plaiting of the tunic
about the throat, the formal curling of the hair, and a certain
weight of over-thoughtfulness in the brows, recall the manner of
Leonardo da Vinci, a master, one of whose characteristics is a very
sensitive expression of the sentiment of maternity.  It reminds one
especially of a work by one of his scholars, the Virgin of the
Balances, in the Louvre, a picture which has been thought to
represent, under a veil, the blessing of universal nature, and in
which the sleepy-looking heads, with a peculiar grace and refinement
of somewhat advanced life in them, have just this half-weary posture.
We see here, then, the Here of the world below, the Stygian Juno, the
chief of those Elysian matrons who come crowding, in the poem of
Claudian, to the marriage toilet of Proserpine, the goddess of the
fertility of the earth and of all creatures, but still of fertility
as arisen out of death;* and therefore she is not without a certain
pensiveness, having seen the seed fall into the ground and die, many
times.  Persephone is returned to her, and the hair [148] spreads,
like a rich harvest, over her shoulders; but she is still veiled, and
knows that the seed must fall into the ground again, and Persephone
descend again from her.

The statues of the supposed priestess, and of the enthroned Demeter,
are of more than the size of life; the figure of Persephone is but
seventeen inches high, a daintily handled toy of Parian marble, the
miniature copy perhaps of a much larger work, which might well be
reproduced on a magnified scale.  The conception of Demeter is
throughout chiefly human, and even domestic, though never without a
hieratic interest, because she is not a goddess only, but also a
priestess.  In contrast, Persephone is wholly unearthly, the close
companion, and even the confused double, of Hecate, the goddess of
midnight terrors,--Despoena,--the final mistress of all that lives;
and as sorrow is the characteristic sentiment of Demeter, so awe of
Persephone.  She is compact of sleep, and death, and flowers, but of
narcotic flowers especially,--a revenant, who in the garden of
Aidoneus has eaten of the pomegranate, and bears always the secret of
decay in her, of return to the grave, in the mystery of those
swallowed seeds; sometimes, in later work, holding in her hand the
key of the great prison-house, but which unlocks all secrets also;
(there, finally, or through oracles revealed in dreams;) sometimes,
like Demeter, the poppy, emblem of sleep and death by its [149]
narcotic juices, of life and resurrection by its innumerable seeds,
of the dreams, therefore, that may intervene between falling asleep
and waking.  Treated as it is in the Homeric hymn, and still more in
this statue, the image of Persephone may be regarded as the result of
many efforts to lift the old Chthonian gloom, still lingering on in
heavier souls, concerning the grave, to connect it with impressions
of dignity and beauty, and a certain sweetness even; it is meant to
make men in love, or at least at peace, with death.  The Persephone
of Praxiteles' school, then, is Aphrodite-Persephone, Venus-Libitina.
Her shadowy eyes have gazed upon the fainter colouring of the under-
world, and the tranquillity, born of it, has "passed into her face";
for the Greek Hades is, after all, but a quiet, twilight place, not
very different from that House of Fame where Dante places the great
souls of the classical world; Aidoneus himself being conceived, in
the highest Greek sculpture, as but a gentler Zeus, the great
innkeeper; so that when a certain Greek sculptor had failed in his
portraiture of Zeus, because it had too little hilarity, too little,
in the eyes and brow, of the open and cheerful sky, he only changed
its title, and the thing passed excellently, with its heavy locks and
shadowy eyebrows, for the god of the dead.  The image of Persephone,
then, as it is here composed, with the tall, tower-like head-dress,
from which the veil depends--the corn-basket, [150] originally
carried thus by the Greek women, balanced on the head--giving the
figure unusual length, has the air of a body bound about with grave-
clothes; while the archaic hands and feet, and a certain stiffness in
the folds of the drapery, give it something of a hieratic character,
and to the modern observer may suggest a sort of kinship with the
more chastened kind of Gothic work.  But quite of the school of
Praxiteles is the general character of the composition; the graceful
waving of the hair, the fine shadows of the little face, of the eyes
and lips especially, like the shadows of a flower--a flower risen
noiselessly from its dwelling in the dust--though still with that
fulness or heaviness in the brow, as of sleepy people, which, in the
delicate gradations of Greek sculpture, distinguish the infernal
deities from their Olympian kindred.  The object placed in the hand
may be, perhaps, a stiff, archaic flower, but is probably the partly
consumed pomegranate--one morsel gone; the most usual emblem of
Persephone being this mystical fruit, which, because of the multitude
of its seeds, was to the Romans a symbol of fecundity, and was sold
at the doors of the temple of Ceres, that the women might offer it
there, and bear numerous children; and so, to the middle age, became
a symbol of the fruitful earth itself; and then of that other seed
sown in the dark under-world; and at last of that whole hidden
region, so thickly sown, which Dante visited, Michelino painting him,
[151] in the Duomo of Florence, with this fruit in his hand, and
Botticelli putting it into the childish hands of Him, who, if men "go
down into hell, is there also."

There is an attractiveness in these goddesses of the earth, akin to
the influence of cool places, quiet houses, subdued light,
tranquillising voices.  What is there in this phase of ancient
religion for us, at the present day?  The myth of Demeter and
Persephone, then, illustrates the power of the Greek religion as a
religion of pure ideas--of conceptions, which having no link on
historical fact, yet, because they arose naturally out of the spirit
of man, and embodied, in adequate symbols, his deepest thoughts
concerning the conditions of his physical and spiritual life,
maintained their hold through many changes, and are still not without
a solemnising power even for the modern mind, which has once admitted
them as recognised and habitual inhabitants; and, abiding thus for
the elevation and purifying of our sentiments, long after the earlier
and simpler races of their worshippers have passed away, they may be
a pledge to us of the place in our culture, at once legitimate and
possible, of the associations, the conceptions, the imagery, of Greek
religious poetry in general, of the poetry of all religions.

NOTES

117. +Transliteration: kalykôpis.  Liddell and Scott definition:
"Like a flower-bud, blushing, roseate."

118. +Transliteration: charis.  Liddell and Scott definition:
"favour, grace ... loveliness."

118. +Transliteration: theai semnai.  Translation: "august
goddesses."

124. *The great Greek myths are, in truth, like abstract forces,
which ally themselves to various conditions.

129. +Transliteration: korê arrêtos.  Translation: "Korê the
mysterious, the horrible."  Another meaning of arrêtos, as Pater
points out, is "unsaid, not to be spoken."

136. *With this may be connected another passage of Ovid--
Metamorphoses, v. 391-408.

138. *On these small objects the mother and daughter are hard to
distinguish, the latter being recognisable only by a greater delicacy
in the features and the more evident stamp of youth.

140. *A History of Discoveries at Halicarnassus, Cnidus, and
Branchidae.

141. +Transliteration: hoi theoi para Damatri.  Pater's translation:
"the gods with Demeter."

143. +Transliteration: katadesmoi.  Liddell and Scott definition: "a
tie or band: a magic knot, love-knot."

145. +Transliteration: Dêô.  Liddell and Scott definition: the verb
dêô means "I shall find," while the proper noun refers to Demeter.

147. +Transliteration: petra agelastos.  Translation: "sullen rock."

147. *Pallere ligustra, / Exspirare rosas, decrescere lilia vidi.



HIPPOLYTUS VEILED: A STUDY FROM EURIPIDES

[152] CENTURIES of zealous archaeology notwithstanding, many phases
of the so varied Greek genius are recorded for the modern student in
a kind of shorthand only, or not at all.  Even for Pausanias,
visiting Greece before its direct part in affairs was quite played
out, much had perished or grown dim--of its art, of the truth of its
outward history, above all of its religion as a credible or
practicable thing.  And yet Pausanias visits Greece under
conditions as favourable for observation as those under which later
travellers, Addison or Eustace, proceed to Italy.  For him the
impress of life in those old Greek cities is not less vivid and
entire than that of medieval Italy to ourselves; at Siena, for
instance, with its ancient palaces still in occupation, its public
edifices as serviceable as if the old republic had but just now
vacated them, the tradition of their primitive worship still unbroken
in its churches.  Had the opportunities in which Pausanias was [153]
fortunate been ours, how many haunts of the antique Greek life
unnoticed by him we should have peeped into, minutely systematic in
our painstaking! how many a view would broaden out where he notes
hardly anything at all on his map of Greece!

One of the most curious phases of Greek civilisation which has thus
perished for us, and regarding which, as we may fancy, we should have
made better use of that old traveller's facilities, is the early
Attic deme-life--its picturesque, intensely localised variety, in the
hollow or on the spur of mountain or sea-shore; and with it many a
relic of primitive religion, many an early growth of art parallel to
what Vasari records of artistic beginnings in the smaller cities of
Italy.  Colonus and Acharnae, surviving still so vividly by the magic
of Sophocles, of Aristophanes, are but isolated examples of a
widespread manner of life, in which, amid many provincial
peculiarities, the first, yet perhaps the most costly and telling
steps were made in all the various departments of Greek culture.
Even in the days of Pausanias, Piraeus was still traceable as a
distinct township, once the possible rival of Athens, with its little
old covered market by the seaside, and the symbolical picture of the
place, its Genius, visible on the wall.  And that is but the type of
what there had been to know of threescore and more village
communities, each having its own altars, its special worship and
[154] place of civic assembly, its trade and crafts, its name drawn
from physical peculiarity or famous incident, its body of heroic
tradition.  Lingering on while Athens, the great deme, gradually
absorbed into itself more and more of their achievements, and passing
away almost completely as political factors in the Peloponnesian war,
they were still felt, we can hardly doubt, in the actual physiognomy
of Greece.  That variety in unity, which its singular geographical
formation secured to Greece as a whole, was at its utmost in these
minute reflexions of the national character, with all the relish
of local difference--new art, new poetry, fresh ventures in political
combination, in the conception of life, springing as if straight from
the soil, like the thorn-blossom of early spring in magic lines over
all that rocky land.  On the other hand, it was just here that
ancient habits clung most tenaciously--that old-fashioned, homely,
delightful existence, to which the refugee, pent up in Athens in the
years of the Peloponnesian war, looked back so fondly.  If the
impression of Greece generally is but enhanced by the littleness of
the physical scene of events intellectually so great--such a system
of grand lines, restrained within so narrow a compass, as in one of
its fine coins--still more would this be true of those centres of
country life.  Here, certainly, was that assertion of seemingly small
interests, which brings into free play, and gives his utmost value
[155] to, the individual; making his warfare, equally with his more
peaceful rivalries, deme against deme, the mountain against the
plain, the sea-shore, (as in our own old Border life, but played out
here by wonderfully gifted people) tangible as a personal history, to
the doubling of its fascination for those whose business is with the
survey of the dramatic side of life.

As with civil matters, so it was also, we may fairly suppose, with
religion; the deme-life was a manifestation of religious custom and
sentiment, in all their primitive local variety.  As Athens,
gradually drawing into itself the various elements of provincial
culture, developed, with authority, the central religious position,
the demes-men did but add the worship of Athene Polias, the goddess
of the capital, to their own pre-existent ritual uses.  Of local and
central religion alike, time and circumstance had obliterated much
when Pausanias came.  A devout spirit, with religion for his chief
interest, eager for the trace of a divine footstep, anxious even in
the days of Lucian to deal seriously with what had counted for so
much to serious men, he has, indeed, to lament that "Pan is dead":--
"They come no longer!"--"These things happen no longer!"  But the
Greek--his very name also, Hellen, was the title of a priesthood--had
been religious abundantly, sanctifying every detail of his actual
life with the religious idea; and as Pausanias goes on his way he
finds many a remnant of that [156] earlier estate of religion, when,
as he fancied, it had been nearer the gods, as it was certainly
nearer the earth. It is marked, even in decay, with varieties of
place; and is not only continuous but in situ.  At Phigaleia he
makes his offerings to Demeter, agreeably to the paternal rites of
the inhabitants, wax, fruit, undressed wool "still full of the sordes
of the sheep." A dream from heaven cuts short his notice of the
mysteries of Eleusis. He sees the stone, "big enough for a little
man," on which Silenus was used to sit and rest; at Athens, the
tombs of the Amazons, of the purple-haired Nisus, of Deucalion;--"it
is a manifest token that he had dwelt there."  The worshippers of
Poseidon, even at his temple among the hills, might still feel the
earth fluctuating beneath their feet. And in care for divine things,
he tells us, the Athenians outdid all other Greeks. Even in the days
of Nero it revealed itself oddly; and it is natural to suppose that
of this temper the demes, as the proper home of conservatism, were
exceptionally expressive. Scattered in those remote, romantic
villages, among their olives or sea-weeds, lay the heroic graves, the
relics, the sacred images, often rude enough amid the delicate
tribute of later art; this too oftentimes finding in such retirement
its best inspirations, as in some Attic Fiesole. Like a network over
the land of gracious poetic tradition, as also of undisturbed
ceremonial usage surviving late for those who cared to seek it, the
[157] local religions had been never wholly superseded by the worship
of the great national temples. They were, in truth, the most
characteristic developments of a faith essentially earth-born or
indigenous.

And how often must the student of fine art, again, wish he had the
same sort of knowledge about its earlier growth in Greece, that he
actually possesses in the case of Italian art!  Given any development
at all in this matter, there must have been phases of art, which, if
immature, were also veritable expressions of power to come,
intermediate discoveries of beauty, such as are by no means a mere
anticipation, and of service only as explaining historically larger
subsequent achievements, but of permanent attractiveness in
themselves, being often, indeed, the true maturity of certain amiable
artistic qualities. And in regard to Greek art at its best--the
Parthenon--no less than to the art of the Renaissance at its best--
the Sistine Chapel--the more instructive light would be derived
rather from what precedes than what follows such central success,
from the determination to apprehend the fulfilment of past effort
rather than the eve of decline, in the critical, central moment which
partakes of both. Of such early promise, early achievement, we have
in the case of Greek art little to compare with what is extant of the
youth of the arts in Italy. Overbeck's careful gleanings of its
history form indeed [158] a sorry relic as contrasted with Vasari's
intimations of the beginnings of the Renaissance.  Fired by certain
fragments of its earlier days, of a beauty, in truth, absolute, and
vainly longing for more, the student of Greek sculpture indulges the
thought of an ideal of youthful energy therein, yet withal of
youthful self-restraint; and again, as with survivals of old
religion, the privileged home, he fancies, of that ideal must have
been in those venerable Attic townships, as to a large extent it
passed away with them.

The budding of new art, the survival of old religion, at isolated
centres of provincial life, where varieties of human character also
were keen, abundant, asserted in correspondingly effective incident--
this is what irresistible fancy superinduces on historic details,
themselves meagre enough.  The sentiment of antiquity is indeed a
characteristic of all cultivated people, even in what may seem the
freshest ages, and not exclusively a humour of our later world.  In
the earliest notices about them, as we know, the people of Attica
appear already impressed by the immense antiquity of their occupation
of its soil, of which they claim to be the very first flower.  Some
at least of those old demes-men we may well fancy sentimentally
reluctant to change their habits, fearful of losing too much of
themselves in the larger stream of life, clinging to what is
antiquated as the work of centralisation goes on, needful as that
work was, [159] with the great "Eastern difficulty" already ever in
the distance.  The fear of Asia, barbaric, splendid, hardly known,
yet haunting the curious imagination of those who had borrowed thence
the art in which they were rapidly excelling it, developing, as we
now see, in the interest of Greek humanity, crafts begotten of
tyrannic and illiberal luxury, was finally to suppress the rivalries
of those primitive centres of activity, when the "invincible armada"
of the common foe came into sight.

At a later period civil strife was to destroy their last traces.  The
old hoplite, from Rhamnus or Acharnae, pent up in beleaguered Athens
during that first summer of the Peloponnesian war, occupying with his
household a turret of the wall, as Thucydides describes--one of many
picturesque touches in that severe historian--could well remember the
ancient provincial life which this conflict with Sparta was bringing
to an end.  He could recall his boyish, half-scared curiosity
concerning those Persian ships, coming first as merchantmen, or with
pirates on occasion, in the half-savage, wicked splendours of their
decoration, the monstrous figure-heads, their glittering freightage.
Men would hardly have trusted their women or children with that
suspicious crew, hovering through the dusk.  There were soothsayers,
indeed, who had long foretold what happened soon after, giving shape
to vague, supernatural terrors.  And then he had crept [160] from his
hiding-place with other lads to go view the enemies' slain at
Marathon, beside those belated Spartans, this new war with whom
seemed to be reviving the fierce local feuds of his younger days.
Paraloi and Diacrioi had ever been rivals.  Very distant it all
seemed now, with all the stories he could tell; for in those
crumbling little towns, as heroic life had lingered on into the
actual, so, at an earlier date, the supernatural into the heroic.
Like mist at dawn, the last traces of its divine visitors had then
vanished from the land, where, however, they had already begotten
"our best and oldest families."

It was Theseus, uncompromising young master of the situation, in
fearless application of "the modern spirit" of his day to every phase
of life where it was applicable, who, at the expense of Attica, had
given Athens a people, reluctant enough, in truth, as Plutarch
suggests, to desert "their homes and religious usages and many good
and gracious kings of their own" for this elect youth, who thus
figures, passably, as a kind of mythic shorthand for civilisation,
making roads and the like, facilitating travel, suppressing various
forms of violence, but many innocent things as well.  So it must
needs be in a world where, even hand in hand with a god-assisted
hero, Justice goes blindfold.  He slays the bull of Marathon and many
another local tyrant, but also exterminates that delightful creature,
the Centaur.  The Amazon, whom Plato will [161] reinstate as the type
of improved womanhood, has no better luck than Phaea, the sow-pig of
Crommyon, foul old landed-proprietress.  They exerted, however, the
prerogative of poetic protest, and survive thereby.  Centaur and
Amazon, as we see them in the fine art of Greece, represent the
regret of Athenians themselves for something that could never be
brought to life again, and have their pathos.  Those young heroes
contending with Amazons on the frieze of the Mausoleum had best make
haste with their bloody work, if young people's eyes can tell a true
story.  A type still of progress triumphant through injustice, set on
improving things off the face of the earth, Theseus took occasion to
attack the Amazons in their mountain home, not long after their
ruinous conflict with Hercules, and hit them when they were down.
That greater bully had laboured off on the world's highway, carrying
with him the official girdle of Antiope, their queen, gift of Ares,
and therewith, it would seem, the mystic secret of their strength.
At sight of this new foe, at any rate, she came to a strange
submission.  The savage virgin had turned to very woman, and was
presently a willing slave, returning on the gaily appointed ship in
all haste to Athens, where in supposed wedlock she bore King Theseus
a son.

With their annual visit--visit to the Gargareans!--for the purpose of
maintaining their [162] species, parting with their boys early, these
husbandless women could hardly be supposed a very happy, certainly
not a very joyous people.  They figure rather as a sorry measure of
the luck of the female sex in taking a hard natural law into their
own hands, and by abnegation of all tender companionship making shift
with bare independence, as a kind of second-best--the best
practicable by them in the imperfect actual condition of things.  But
the heart-strings would ache still where the breast had been cut
away.  The sisters of Antiope had come, not immediately, but in
careful array of battle, to bring back the captive.  All along the
weary roads from the Caucasus to Attica, their traces had remained in
the great graves of those who died by the way.  Against the little
remnant, carrying on the fight to the very midst of Athens, Antiope
herself had turned, all other thoughts transformed now into wild
idolatry of her hero.  Superstitious, or in real regret, the
Athenians never forgot their tombs.  As for Antiope, the conscience
of her perfidy remained with her, adding the pang of remorse to her
own desertion, when King Theseus, with his accustomed bad faith to
women, set her, too, aside in turn.  Phaedra, the true wife, was
there, peeping suspiciously at her arrival; and even as Antiope
yielded to her lord's embraces the thought had come that a male child
might be the instrument of her anger, and one day judge her cause.

[163] In one of these doomed, decaying villages, then, King Theseus
placed the woman and her babe, hidden, yet secure, within the Attic
border, as men veil their mistakes or crimes.  They might pass away,
they and their story, together with the memory of other antiquated
creatures of such places, who had had connubial dealings with the
stars.  The white, paved waggon-track, a by-path of the sacred way to
Eleusis, zigzagged through sloping olive-yards, from the plain of
silvered blue, with Athens building in the distance, and passed the
door of the rude stone house, furnished scantily, which no one had
ventured to inhabit of late years till they came there.  On the
ledges of the grey cliffs above, the laurel groves, stem and foliage
of motionless bronze, had spread their tents.  Travellers bound
northwards were glad to repose themselves there, and take directions,
or provision for their journey onwards, from the highland people, who
came down hither to sell their honey, their cheese, and woollen
stuff, in the tiny market-place.  At dawn the great stars seemed to
halt a while, burning as if for sacrifice to some pure deity, on
those distant, obscurely named heights, like broken swords, the rim
of the world.  A little later you could just see the newly opened
quarries, like streaks of snow on their russet-brown bosoms.  Thither
in spring-time all eyes turned from Athens devoutly, intent till the
first shaft of lightning gave signal for the departure of the [164]
sacred ship to Delos.  Racing over those rocky surfaces, the virgin
air descended hither with the secret of profound sleep, as the child
lay in its cubicle hewn in the stone, the white fleeces heaped warmly
round him.  In the wild Amazon's soul, to her surprise, and at first
against her will, the maternal sense had quickened from the moment of
his conception, and (that burst of angry tears with which she had
received him into the world once dried up), kindling more eagerly at
every token of manly growth, had at length driven out every other
feeling.  And this animal sentiment, educating the human hand and
heart in her, had become a moral one, when, King Theseus leaving her
in anger, visibly unkind, the child had crept to her side, and
tracing with small fingers the wrinkled lines of her woebegone brow,
carved there as if by a thousand years of sorrow, had sown between
himself and her the seed of an undying sympathy.

She was thus already on the watch for a host of minute recognitions
on his part, of the self-sacrifice involved in her devotion to a
career of which she must needs drain out the sorrow, careful that he
might taste only the joy.  So far, amid their spare living, the
child, as if looking up to the warm broad wing of her love above him,
seemed replete with comfort.  Yet in his moments of childish
sickness, the first passing shadows upon the deep joy of her
motherhood, she teaches him betimes to soothe [165] or cheat pain--
little bodily pains only, hitherto.  She ventures sadly to assure him
of the harsh necessities of life: "Courage, child!  Every one must
take his share of suffering.  Shift not thy body so vehemently.
Pain, taken quietly, is easier to bear."

Carefully inverting the habits of her own rude childhood, she learned
to spin the wools, white and grey, to clothe and cover him
pleasantly.  The spectacle of his unsuspicious happiness, though at
present a matter of purely physical conditions, awoke a strange sense
of poetry, a kind of artistic sense in her, watching, as her own
long-deferred recreation in life, his delight in the little
delicacies she prepared to his liking--broiled kids' flesh, the red
wine, the mushrooms sought through the early dew--his hunger and
thirst so daintily satisfied, as he sat at table, like the first-born
of King Theseus, with two wax-lights and a fire at dawn or nightfall
dancing to the prattle and laughter, a bright child, never stupidly
weary.  At times his very happiness would seem to her like a menace
of misfortune to come.  Was there not with herself the curse of that
unsisterly action? and not far from him, the terrible danger of the
father's, the step-mother's jealousy, the mockery of those half-
brothers to come?  Ah! how perilous for happiness the sensibilities
which make him so exquisitely happy now!  Before they started on
their dreadful visit to the Minotaur, says Plutarch, the women told
their [166] sons many tales and other things to encourage them; and,
even as she had furnished the child betimes with rules for the solace
of bodily pain, so now she would have brought her own sad experience
into service in precepts for the ejection of its festering power out
of any other trouble that might visit him.  Already those little
disappointments which are as the shadow beside all conscious
enjoyment, were no petty things to her, but had for her their pathos,
as children's troubles will have, in spite of the longer chance
before them.  They were as the first steps in a long story of
deferred hopes, or anticipations of death itself and the end of them.

The gift of Ares gone, the mystic girdle she would fain have
transferred to the child, that bloody god of storm and battle,
hereditary patron of her house, faded from her thoughts together with
the memory of her past life--the more completely, because another
familiar though somewhat forbidding deity, accepting certainly a
cruel and forbidding worship, was already in possession, and reigning
in the new home when she came thither.  Only, thanks to some kindly
local influence (by grace, say, of its delicate air), Artemis, this
other god she had known in the Scythian wilds, had put aside her
fierce ways, as she paused awhile on her heavenly course among these
ancient abodes of men, gliding softly, mainly through their dreams,
with abundance of salutary touches.  Full, in truth, of [167]
grateful memory of some timely service at human hands!  In these
highland villages the tradition of celestial visitants clung fondly,
of god or hero, belated or misled on long journeys, yet pleased to be
among the sons of men, as their way led them up the steep, narrow,
crooked street, condescending to rest a little, as one, under some
sudden stress not clearly ascertained, had done here, in this very
house, thereafter for ever sacred.  The place and its inhabitants, of
course, had been something bigger in the days of those old mythic
hospitalities, unless, indeed, divine persons took kindly the will
for the deed--very different, surely, from the present condition of
things, for there was little here to detain a delicate traveller,
even in the abode of Antiope and her son, though it had been the
residence of a king.

Hard by stood the chapel of the goddess, who had thus adorned the
place with her memories.  The priests, indeed, were already departed
to Athens, carrying with them the ancient image, the vehicle of her
actual presence, as the surest means of enriching the capital at the
expense of the country, where she must now make poor shift of the
occasional worshipper on his way through these mountain passes.  But
safely roofed beneath the sturdy tiles of grey Hymettus marble, upon
the walls of the little square recess enclosing the deserted
pedestal, a series of crowded imageries, in the devout spirit [168]
of earlier days, were eloquent concerning her.  Here from scene to
scene, touched with silver among the wild and human creatures in dun
bronze, with the moon's disk around her head, shrouded closely, the
goddess of the chase still glided mystically through all the varied
incidents of her story, in all the detail of a written book.

A book for the delighted reading of a scholar, willing to ponder at
leisure, to make his way surely, and understand.  Very different,
certainly, from the cruel-featured little idol his mother had brought
in her bundle--the old Scythian Artemis, hanging there on the wall,
side by side with the forgotten Ares, blood-red,--the goddess reveals
herself to the lad, poring through the dusk by taper-light, as at
once a virgin, necessarily therefore the creature of solitude, yet
also as the assiduous nurse of children, and patroness of the young.
Her friendly intervention at the act of birth everywhere, her claim
upon the nursling, among tame and wild creatures equally, among men
as among gods, nay! among the stars (upon the very star of dawn),
gave her a breadth of influence seemingly coextensive with the sum of
things.  Yes! his great mother was in touch with everything.  Yet
throughout he can but note her perpetual chastity, with pleasurable
though half-suspicious wonder at the mystery, he knows not what,
involved therein, as though he awoke suddenly in some distant,
unexplored region of her person and activity. [169] Why the lighted
torch always, and that long straight vesture rolled round so
formally?  Was it only against the cold of these northern heights?

To her, nevertheless, her maternity, her solitude, to this virgin
mother, who, with no husband, no lover, no fruit of her own, is so
tender to the children of others, in a full heart he devotes himself-
-his immaculate body and soul.  Dedicating himself thus, he has the
sense also that he becomes more entirely than ever the chevalier of
his mortal mother, of her sad cause.  The devout, diligent hands
clear away carefully the dust, the faded relics of her former
worship; a worship renewed once more as the sacred spring, set free
from encumbrance, in answer to his willing ministries murmurs again
under the dim vault in its marble basin, work of primitive Titanic
fingers--flows out through its rocky channel, filling the whole
township with chaste thoughts of her.

Through much labour at length he comes to the veritable story of her
birth, like a gift direct from the goddess herself to this loyal
soul.  There were those in later times who, like Aeschylus, knew
Artemis as the daughter not of Leto but of Demeter, according to the
version of her history now conveyed to the young Hippolytus, together
with some deepened insight into her character.  The goddess of
Eleusis, on a journey, in the old days when, as Plato says, [170] men
lived nearer the gods, finding herself with child by some starry
inmate of those high places, had lain down in the rock-hewn cubicle
of the inner chamber, and, certainly in sorrow, brought forth a
daughter.  Here was the secret at once of the genial, all-embracing
maternity of this new strange Artemis, and of those more dubious
tokens, the lighted torch, the winding-sheet, the arrow of death on
the string--of sudden death, truly, which may be thought after all
the kindest, as prevenient of all disgraceful sickness or waste in
the unsullied limbs.  For the late birth into the world of this so
shadowy daughter was somehow identified with the sudden passing into
Hades of her first-born, Persephone.  As he scans those scenes anew,
an awful surmise comes to him; his divine patroness moves there as
death, surely.  Still, however, gratefully putting away suspicion, he
seized even in these ambiguous imageries their happier suggestions,
satisfied in thinking of his new mother as but the giver of sound
sleep, of the benign night, whence--mystery of mysteries!--good
things are born softly, from which he awakes betimes for his
healthful service to her.  Either way, sister of Apollo or sister of
Persephone, to him she should be a power of sanity, sweet as the
flowers he offered her gathered at dawn, setting daily their purple
and white frost against her ancient marbles.  There was more
certainly than the first breath of day in them.  Was there [171] here
something of her person, her sensible presence, by way of direct
response to him in his early devotion, astir for her sake before the
very birds, nesting here so freely, the quail above all, in some
privileged connexion with her story still unfathomed by the learned
youth?  Amid them he too found a voice, and sang articulately the
praises of the great goddess.

Those more dubious traits, nevertheless, so lightly disposed of by
Hippolytus (Hecate thus counting for him as Artemis goddess of
health), became to his mother, in the light of her sad experience,
the sum of the whole matter.  While he drew only peaceful inducements
to sleep from that two-sided figure, she reads there a volume of
sinister intentions, and liked little this seemingly dead goddess,
who could but move among the living banefully, stealing with her
night-shade into the day where she had no proper right.  The gods had
ever had much to do with the shaping of her fortunes and the fortunes
of her kindred; and the mortal mother felt nothing less than jealousy
from the hour when the lad had first delightedly called her to share
his discoveries, and learn the true story (if it were not rather the
malicious counterfeit) of the new divine mother to whom he has thus
absolutely entrusted himself.  Was not this absolute chastity itself
a kind of death?  She, too, in secret makes her gruesome midnight
offering with averted eyes.  She dreams one night he is in danger;
creeps to his cubicle [172] to see; the face is covered, as he lies,
against the cold.  She traces the motionless outline, raises the
coverlet; with the nice black head deep in the fleecy pillow he is
sleeping quietly, he dreams of that other mother gliding in upon the
moonbeam, and awaking turns sympathetically upon the living woman, is
subdued in a moment to the expression of her troubled spirit, and
understands.

And when the child departed from her for the first time, springing
from his white bed before the dawn, to accompany the elders on their
annual visit to the Eleusinian goddess, the after-sense of his
wonderful happiness, tranquillising her in spite of herself by its
genial power over the actual moment, stirred nevertheless a new sort
of anxiety for the future.  Her work in life henceforward was defined
as a ministry to so precious a gift, in full consciousness of its
risk; it became her religion, the centre of her pieties.  She missed
painfully his continual singing hovering about the place, like the
earth itself made audible in all its humanities.  Half-selfish for a
moment, she prays that he may remain for ever a child, to her solace;
welcomes now the promise of his chastity (though chastity were itself
a kind of death) as the pledge of his abiding always with her.  And
these thoughts were but infixed more deeply by the sudden stroke of
joy at his return home in ceremonial trim and grown more manly, with
much increase of self-confidence in that brief absence among his
fellows.

[173] For, from the first, the unwelcome child, the outcast, had been
successful, with that special good fortune which sometimes attends
the outcast.  His happiness, his invincible happiness, had been found
engaging, perhaps by the gods, certainly by men; and when King
Theseus came to take note how things went in that rough life he had
assigned them, he felt a half liking for the boy, and bade him come
down to Athens and see the sights, partly by way of proof to his
already somewhat exacting wife of the difference between the old love
and the new as measured by the present condition of their respective
offspring.  The fine nature, fastidious by instinct, but bred with
frugality enough to find the charm of continual surprise in that
delicate new Athens, draws, as he goes, the full savour of its
novelties; the marbles, the space and finish, the busy gaiety of its
streets, the elegance of life there, contrasting with while it adds
some mysterious endearment to the thought of his own rude home.
Without envy, in hope only one day to share, to win them by kindness,
he gazes on the motley garden-plots, the soft bedding, the showy
toys, the delicate keep of the children of Phaedra, who turn
curiously to their half-brother, venture to touch his long strange
gown of homespun grey, like the soft coat of some wild creature who
might let one stroke it.  Close to their dainty existence for a
while, he regards it as from afar; looks forward all day to the
lights, the prattle, the laughter, the white [174] bread, like sweet
cake to him, of their ordinary evening meal; returns again and again,
in spite of himself, to watch, to admire, feeling a power within him
to merit the like; finds his way back at last, still light of heart,
to his own poor fare, able to do without what he would enjoy so much.
As, grateful for his scanty part in things--for the make-believe of a
feast in the little white loaves she too has managed to come by,
sipping the thin white wine, he touches her dearly, the mother is
shocked with a sense of something unearthly in his contentment, while
he comes and goes, singing now more abundantly than ever a new
canticle to her divine rival.  Were things, after all, to go
grudgingly with him?  Sensible of that curse on herself, with her
suspicions of his kinsfolk, of this dubious goddess to whom he has
devoted himself, she anticipates with more foreboding than ever his
path to be, with or without a wife--her own solitude, or his--the
painful heats and cold.  She fears even these late successes; it were
best to veil their heads.  The strong as such had ever been against
her and hers.  The father came again; noted the boy's growth.
Manliest of men, like Hercules in his cloak of lion's skin, he has
after all but scant liking, feels, through a certain meanness of
soul, scorn for the finer likeness of himself.  Might this creature
of an already vanishing world, who for all his hard rearing had a
manifest distinction of character, one day become his rival, full of
[175] loyalty as he was already to the deserted mother?

To charming Athens, nevertheless, he crept back, as occasion served,
to gaze peacefully on the delightful good fortune of others, waiting
for the opportunity to take his own turn with the rest, driving down
thither at last in a chariot gallantly, when all the town was
assembled to celebrate the king's birthday.  For the goddess, herself
turning ever kinder, and figuring more and more exclusively as the
tender nurse of all things, had transformed her young votary from a
hunter into a charioteer, a rearer and driver of horses, after the
fashion of his Amazon mothers before him.  Thereupon, all the lad's
wholesome vanity had centered on the fancy of the world-famous games
then lately established, as, smiling down his mother's terrors, and
grateful to his celestial mother for many a hair-breadth escape, he
practised day by day, fed the animals, drove them out, amused though
companionless, visited them affectionately in the deserted stone
stables of the ancient king.  A chariot and horses, as being the
showiest outward thing the world afforded, was like the pawn he moved
to represent the big demand he meant to make, honestly, generously,
on the ample fortunes of life.  There was something of his old
miraculous kindred, alien from this busy new world he came to, about
the boyish driver with the fame of a scholar, in his grey fleecy
cloak and hood of soft [175] white woollen stuff, as he drove in that
morning.  Men seemed to have seen a star flashing, and crowded round
to examine the little mountain-bred beasts, in loud, friendly
intercourse with the hero of the hour--even those usually somewhat
unsympathetic half-brothers now full of enthusiasm for the outcast
and his good fight for prosperity.  Instinctively people admired his
wonderful placidity, and would fain have shared its secret, as it
were the carelessness of some fair flower upon his face.  A victor in
the day's race, he carried home as his prize a glittering new harness
in place of the very old one he had come with.  "My chariot and
horses!" he says now, with his single touch of pride.  Yet at home,
savouring to the full his old solitary happiness, veiled again from
time to time in that ancient life, he is still the student, still
ponders the old writings which tell of his divine patroness.  At
Athens strange stories are told in turn of him, his nights upon the
mountains, his dreamy sin, with that hypocritical virgin goddess,
stories which set the jealous suspicions of Theseus at rest once
more.  For so "dream" not those who have the tangible, appraisable
world in view.  Even Queen Phaedra looks with pleasure, as he comes,
on the once despised illegitimate creature, at home now here too,
singing always audaciously, so visibly happy, occupied, popular.

Encompassed by the luxuries of Athens, far from those peaceful
mountain places, among people [177] further still in spirit from
their peaceful light and shade, he did not forget the kindly goddess,
still sharing with his earthly mother the prizes, or what they would
buy, for the adornment of their spare abode.  The tombs of the fallen
Amazons, the spot where they had breathed their last, he piously
visited, informed himself of every circumstance of the event with
devout care, and, thinking on them amid the dainties of the royal
table, boldly brought them too their share of the offerings to the
heroic dead.  Aphrodite, indeed--Aphrodite, of whom he had scarcely
so much as heard--was just then the best-served deity in Athens, with
all its new wealth of colour and form, its gold and ivory, the
acting, the music, the fantastic women, beneath the shadow of the
great walls still rising steadily.  Hippolytus would have no part in
her worship; instead did what was in him to revive the neglected
service of his own goddess, stirring an old jealousy.  For Aphrodite
too had looked with delight upon the youth, already the centre of a
hundred less dangerous human rivalries among the maidens of Greece,
and was by no means indifferent to his indifference, his instinctive
distaste; while the sterner, almost forgotten Artemis found once more
her great moon-shaped cake, set about with starry tapers, at the
appointed seasons.

They know him now from afar, by his emphatic, shooting, arrowy
movements; and on [178] the day of the great chariot races "he goes
in and wins."  To the surprise of all he compounded his handsome
prize for the old wooden image taken from the chapel at home, lurking
now in an obscure shrine in the meanest quarter of the town.  Sober
amid the noisy feasting which followed, unashamed, but travelling by
night to hide it from their mockery, warm at his bosom, he reached
the passes at twilight, and through the deep peace of the glens bore
it to the old resting-place, now more worthy than ever of the
presence of its mistress, his mother and all the people of the
village coming forth to salute her, all doors set mystically open, as
she advances.

Phaedra too, his step-mother, a fiery soul with wild strange blood in
her veins, forgetting her fears of this illegitimate rival of her
children, seemed now to have seen him for the first time, loved at
last the very touch of his fleecy cloak, and would fain have had him
of her own religion.  As though the once neglected child had been
another, she tries to win him as a stranger in his manly perfection,
growing more than an affectionate mother to her husband's son.  But
why thus intimate and congenial, she asks, always in the wrong
quarter?  Why not compass two ends at once?  Why so squeamishly
neglect the powerful, any power at all, in a city so full of
religion?  He might find the image of her sprightly goddess
everywhere, to his [179] liking, gold, silver, native or stranger,
new or old, graceful, or indeed, if he preferred it so, in iron or
stone.  By the way, she explains the delights of love, of marriage,
the husband once out of the way; finds in him, with misgiving, a sort
of forwardness, as she thinks, on this one matter, as if he
understood her craft and despised it.  He met her questions in truth
with scarce so much as contempt, with laughing counter-queries, why
people needed wedding at all?  They might have found the children in
the temples, or bought them, as you could buy flowers in Athens.

Meantime Phaedra's young children draw from the seemingly unconscious
finger the marriage-ring, set it spinning on the floor at his feet,
and the staid youth places it for a moment on his own finger for
safety.  As it settles there, his step-mother, aware all the while,
suddenly presses his hand over it.  He found the ring there that
night as he lay; left his bed in the darkness, and again, for safety,
put it on the finger of the image, wedding once for all that so
kindly mystical mother.  And still, even amid his earthly mother's
terrible misgivings, he seems to foresee a charming career marked out
before him in friendly Athens, to the height of his desire.  Grateful
that he is here at all, sharing at last so freely life's banquet, he
puts himself for a moment in his old place, recalling his old
enjoyment of the pleasure of others; [180] feels, just then, no
different.  Yet never had life seemed so sufficing as at this moment-
-the meat, the drink, the drives, the popularity as he comes and
goes, even his step-mother's false, selfish, ostentatious gifts.  But
she, too, begins to feel something of the jealousy of that other
divine, would-be mistress, and by way of a last effort to bring him
to a better mind in regard to them both, conducts him (immeasurable
privilege!) to her own private chapel.

You could hardly tell where the apartments of the adulteress ended
and that of the divine courtesan began.  Haunts of her long,
indolent, self-pleasing nights and days, they presented everywhere
the impress of Phaedra's luxurious humour.  A peculiar glow, such as
he had never before seen, like heady lamplight, or sunshine to some
sleeper in a delirious dream, hung upon, clung to, the bold, naked,
shameful imageries, as his step-mother trimmed the lamps, drew forth
her sickly perfumes, clad afresh in piquant change of raiment the
almost formless goddess crouching there in her unclean shrine or
stye, set at last her foolish wheel in motion to a low chant, holding
him by the wrist, keeping close all the while, as if to catch some
germ of consent in his indifferent words.

And little by little he perceives that all this is for him--the
incense, the dizzy wheel, the shreds of stuff cut secretly from his
sleeve, the sweetened cup he drank at her offer, unavailingly;+
[181]  and yes! his own features surely, in pallid wax.  With a gasp
of flighty laughter she ventures to point the thing out to him, full
as he is at last of visible, irrepressible dislike.  Ah! it was that
very reluctance that chiefly stirred her.  Healthily white and red,
he had a marvellous air of discretion about him, as of one never to
be caught unaware, as if he never could be anything but like water
from the rock, or the wild flowers of the morning, or the beams of
the morning star turned to human flesh.  It was the self-possession
of this happy mind, the purity of this virgin body, she would fain
have perturbed, as a pledge to herself of her own gaudy claim to
supremacy.  King Theseus, as she knew, had had at least two earlier
loves; for once she would be a first love; felt at moments that with
this one passion once indulged, it might be happiness thereafter to
remain chaste for ever.  And then, by accident, yet surely reading
indifference in his manner of accepting her gifts, she is ready again
for contemptuous, open battle.  Is he indeed but a child still, this
nursling of the forbidding Amazon, of that Amazonian goddess--to be a
child always? or a wily priest rather, skilfully circumventing her
sorceries, with mystic precautions of his own?  In truth, there is
something of the priestly character in this impassible discretion,
reminding her of his alleged intimacy with the rival goddess, and
redoubling her curiosity, her fondness.+ [182] Phaedra, love-sick,
feverish, in bodily sickness at last, raves of the cool woods, the
chase, the steeds of Hippolytus, her thoughts running madly on what
she fancies to be his secret business; with a storm of abject tears,
foreseeing in one moment of recoil the weary tale of years to come,
star-stricken as she declares, she dared at last to confess her
longing to already half-suspicious attendants; and, awake one morning
to find Hippolytus there kindly at her bidding, drove him openly
forth in a tempest of insulting speech.  There was a mordant there,
like the menace of misfortune to come, in which the injured goddess
also was invited to concur.  What words! what terrible words!
following, clinging to him, like acrid fire upon his bare flesh, as
he hasted from Phaedra's house, thrust out at last, his vesture
remaining in her hands.  The husband returning suddenly, she tells
him a false story of violence to her bed, and is believed.

King Theseus, all his accumulated store of suspicion and dislike
turning now to active hatred, flung away readily upon him,
bewildered, unheard, one of three precious curses (some mystery of
wasting sickness therein) with which Poseidon had indulged him.  It
seemed sad that one so young must call for justice, precariously,
upon the gods, the dead, the very walls!  Admiring youth dared hardly
bid farewell to their late comrade; are generous, at most, in [183]
stolen, sympathetic glances towards the fallen star.  At home, veiled
once again in that ancient twilight world, his mother, fearing solely
for what he may suffer by the departure of that so brief prosperity,
enlarged as it had been, even so, by his grateful taking of it, is
reassured, delighted, happy once more at the visible proof of his
happiness, his invincible happiness.  Duly he returned to Athens,
early astir, for the last time, to restore the forfeited gifts, drove
back his gaily painted chariot to leave there behind him, actually
enjoying the drive, going home on foot poorer than ever.  He takes
again to his former modes of life, a little less to the horses, a
little more to the old studies, the strange, secret history of his
favourite goddess,--wronged surely! somehow, she too, as powerless to
help him; till he lay sick at last, battling one morning, unaware of
his mother's presence, with the feverish creations of the brain; the
giddy, foolish wheel, the foolish song, of Phaedra's chapel, spinning
there with his heart bound thereto.  "The curses of my progenitors
are come upon me!" he cries.  "And yet, why so? guiltless as I am of
evil."  His wholesome religion seeming to turn against him now, the
trees, the streams, the very rocks, swoon into living creatures,
swarming around the goddess who has lost her grave quietness.  He
finds solicitation, and recoils, in the wind, in the sounds of the
rain; till at length delirium [184] itself finds a note of returning
health.  The feverish wood-ways of his fancy open unexpectedly upon
wide currents of air, lulling him to sleep; and the conflict ending
suddenly altogether at its sharpest, he lay in the early light
motionless among the pillows, his mother standing by, as she thought,
to see him die.  As if for the last time, she presses on him the
things he had liked best in that eating and drinking she had found so
beautiful.  The eyes, the eyelids are big with sorrow; and, as he
understands again, making an effort for her sake, the healthy light
returns into his; a hand seizes hers gratefully, and a slow
convalescence begins, the happiest period in the wild mother's life.
When he longed for flowers for the goddess, she went a toilsome
journey to seek them, growing close, after long neglect, wholesome
and firm on their tall stalks.  The singing she had longed for so
despairingly hovers gaily once more within the chapel and around the
house.

At the crisis of that strange illness she had supposed her long
forebodings about to be realised at last; but upon his recovery
feared no more, assured herself that the curses of the father, the
step-mother, the concurrent ill-will of that angry goddess, have done
their utmost; he will outlive her; a few years hence put her to a
rest surely welcome.  Her misgivings, arising always out of the
actual spectacle of his profound happiness, seemed at an end in this
meek bliss, the more as [185] she observed that it was a shade less
unconscious than of old.  And almost suddenly he found the strength,
the heart, in him, to try his fortune again with the old chariot; and
those still unsatisfied curses, in truth, going on either side of him
like living creatures unseen, legend tells briefly how, a competitor
for pity with Adonis, and Icarus, and Hyacinth, and other doomed
creatures of immature radiance in all story to come, he set forth
joyously for the chariot-races, not of Athens, but of Troezen, her
rival.  Once more he wins the prize; he says good-bye to admiring
friends anxious to entertain him, and by night starts off homewards,
as of old, like a child, returning quickly through the solitude in
which he had never lacked company, and was now to die.  Through all
the perils of darkness he had guided the chariot safely along the
curved shore; the dawn was come, and a little breeze astir, as the
grey level spaces parted delicately into white and blue, when in a
moment an earthquake, or Poseidon the earth-shaker himself, or angry
Aphrodite awake from the deep betimes, rent the tranquil surface; a
great wave leapt suddenly into the placid distance of the Attic
shore, and was surging here to the very necks of the plunging horses,
a moment since enjoying so pleasantly with him the caress of the
morning air, but now, wholly forgetful of their old affectionate
habit of obedience, dragging their leader headlong over the rough
pavements. [186] Evening and the dawn might seem to have met on that
hapless day through which they drew him home entangled in the
trappings of the chariot that had been his ruin, till he lay at
length, grey and haggard, at the rest he had longed for dimly amid
the buffeting of those murderous stones, his mother watching
impassibly, sunk at once into the condition she had so long
anticipated.

Later legend breaks a supernatural light over that great desolation,
and would fain relieve the reader by introducing the kindly
Asclepius, who presently restores the youth to life, not, however, in
the old form or under familiar conditions.  To her, surely, counting
the wounds, the disfigurements, telling over the pains which had shot
through that dear head now insensible to her touch among the pillows
under the harsh broad daylight, that would have been no more of a
solace than if, according to the fancy of Ovid, he flourished still,
a little deity, but under a new name and veiled now in old age, in
the haunted grove of Aricia, far from his old Attic home, in a land
which had never seen him as he was.



THE BEGINNINGS OF GREEK SCULPTURE
I: THE HEROIC AGE OF GREEK ART

[187] THE extant remains of Greek sculpture, though but a fragment of
what the Greek sculptors produced, are, both in number and in
excellence, in their fitness, therefore, to represent the whole of
which they were a part, quite out of proportion to what has come down
to us of Greek painting, and all those minor crafts which, in the
Greek workshop, as at all periods when the arts have been really
vigorous, were closely connected with the highest imaginative work.
Greek painting is represented to us only by its distant reflexion on
the walls of the buried houses of Pompeii, and the designs of
subordinate though exquisite craftsmen on the vases.  Of wrought
metal, partly through the inherent usefulness of its material,
tempting ignorant persons into whose hands it may fall to re-fashion
it, we have comparatively little; while, in consequence of the
perishableness of their material, nothing [188] remains of the
curious wood-work, the carved ivory, the embroidery and coloured
stuffs, on which the Greeks set much store--of that whole system of
refined artisanship, diffused, like a general atmosphere of beauty
and richness, around the more exalted creations of Greek sculpture.
What we possess, then, of that highest Greek sculpture is presented
to us in a sort of threefold isolation; isolation, first of all, from
the concomitant arts--the frieze of the Parthenon without the metal
bridles on the horses, for which the holes in the marble remain;
isolation, secondly, from the architectural group of which, with most
careful estimate of distance and point of observation, that frieze,
for instance, was designed to be a part; isolation, thirdly, from the
clear Greek skies, the poetical Greek life, in our modern galleries.
And if one here or there, in looking at these things, bethinks
himself of the required substitution; if he endeavours mentally to
throw them back into that proper atmosphere, through which alone they
can exercise over us all the magic by which they charmed their
original spectators, the effort is not always a successful one,
within the grey walls of the Louvre or the British Museum.

And the circumstance that Greek sculpture is presented to us in such
falsifying isolation from the work of the weaver, the carpenter, and
the goldsmith, has encouraged a manner of regarding it too little
sensuous.  Approaching it with full [189] information concerning what
may be called the inner life of the Greeks, their modes of thought
and sentiment amply recorded in the writings of the Greek poets and
philosophers, but with no lively impressions of that mere craftsman's
world of which so little has remained, students of antiquity have for
the most part interpreted the creations of Greek sculpture, rather as
elements in a sequence of abstract ideas, as embodiments, in a sort
of petrified language, of pure thoughts, and as interesting mainly in
connexion with the development of Greek intellect, than as elements
of a sequence in the material order, as results of a designed and
skilful dealing of accomplished fingers with precious forms of matter
for the delight of the eyes.  Greek sculpture has come to be regarded
as the product of a peculiarly limited art, dealing with a specially
abstracted range of subjects; and the Greek sculptor as a workman
almost exclusively intellectual, having only a sort of accidental
connexion with the material in which his thought was expressed.  He
is fancied to have been disdainful of such matters as the mere tone,
the fibre or texture, of his marble or cedar-wood, of that just
perceptible yellowness, for instance, in the ivory-like surface of
the Venus of Melos; as being occupied only with forms as abstract
almost as the conceptions of philosophy, and translateable it might
be supposed into any material--a habit of regarding him still further
encouraged by the modern [190] sculptor's usage of employing merely
mechanical labour in the actual working of the stone.

The works of the highest Greek sculpture are indeed intellectualised,
if we may say so, to the utmost degree; the human figures which they
present to us seem actually to conceive thoughts; in them, that
profoundly reasonable spirit of design which is traceable in Greek
art, continuously and increasingly, upwards from its simplest
products, the oil-vessel or the urn, reaches its perfection.  Yet,
though the most abstract and intellectualised of sensuous objects,
they are still sensuous and material, addressing themselves, in the
first instance, not to the purely reflective faculty, but to the eye;
and a complete criticism must have approached them from both sides--
from the side of the intelligence indeed, towards which they rank as
great thoughts come down into the stone; but from the sensuous side
also, towards which they rank as the most perfect results of that
pure skill of hand, of which the Venus of Melos, we may say, is the
highest example, and the little polished pitcher or lamp, also
perfect in its way, perhaps the lowest.

To pass by the purely visible side of these things, then, is not only
to miss a refining pleasure, but to mistake altogether the medium in
which the most intellectual of the creations of Greek art, the
Aeginetan or the Elgin marbles, for instance, were actually produced;
even these having, in their origin, depended for much of [191] their
charm on the mere material in which they were executed; and the whole
black and grey world of extant antique sculpture needing to be
translated back into ivory and gold, if we would feel the excitement
which the Greek seems to have felt in the presence of these objects.
To have this really Greek sense of Greek sculpture, it is necessary
to connect it, indeed, with the inner life of the Greek world, its
thought and sentiment, on the one hand; but on the other hand to
connect it, also, with the minor works of price, intaglios, coins,
vases; with that whole system of material refinement and beauty in
the outer Greek life, which these minor works represent to us; and it
is with these, as far as possible, that we must seek to relieve the
air of our galleries and museums of their too intellectual greyness.
Greek sculpture could not have been precisely a cold thing; and,
whatever a colour-blind school may say, pure thoughts have their
coldness, a coldness which has sometimes repelled from Greek
sculpture, with its unsuspected fund of passion and energy in
material form, those who cared much, and with much insight, for a
similar passion and energy in the coloured world of Italian painting.

Theoretically, then, we need that world of the minor arts as a
complementary background for the higher and more austere Greek
sculpture; and, as matter of fact, it is just with such a world--with
a period of refined and exquisite [192] tectonics+ (as the Greeks
called all crafts strictly subordinate to architecture), that Greek
art actually begins, in what is called the Heroic Age, that earliest,
undefined period of Greek civilisation, the beginning of which cannot
be dated, and which reaches down to the first Olympiad, about the
year 776 B.C.  Of this period we possess, indeed, no direct history,
and but few actual monuments, great or small; but as to its whole
character and outward local colouring, for its art, as for its
politics and religion, Homer may be regarded as an authority.  The
Iliad and the Odyssey, the earliest pictures of that heroic life,
represent it as already delighting itself in the application of
precious material and skilful handiwork to personal and domestic
adornment, to the refining and beautifying of the entire outward
aspect of life; above all, in the lavish application of very graceful
metal-work to such purposes.  And this representation is borne out by
what little we possess of its actual remains, and by all we can
infer.  Mixed, of course, with mere fable, as a description of the
heroic age, the picture which Homer presents to us, deprived of its
supernatural adjuncts, becomes continuously more and more realisable
as the actual condition of early art, when we emerge gradually into
historical time, and find ourselves at last among dateable works and
real schools or masters.

The history of Greek art, then, begins, as some have fancied general
history to begin, in a [193] golden age, but in an age, so to speak,
of real gold, the period of those first twisters and hammerers of the
precious metals--men who had already discovered the flexibility of
silver and the ductility of gold, the capacity of both for infinite
delicacy of handling, and who enjoyed, with complete freshness, a
sense of beauty and fitness in their work--a period of which that
flower of gold on a silver stalk, picked up lately in one of the
graves at Mycenae, or the legendary golden honeycomb of Daedalus,
might serve as the symbol.  The heroic age of Greek art is the age of
the hero as smith.

There are in Homer two famous descriptive passages in which this
delight in curious metal-work is very prominent; the description in
the Iliad of the shield of Achilles* and the description of the house
of Alcinous in the Odyssey.*  The shield of Achilles is part of the
suit of armour which Hephaestus makes for him at the request of
Thetis; and it is wrought of variously Coloured metals, woven into a
great circular composition in relief, representing the world and the
life in it.  The various activities of man are recorded in this
description in a series of idyllic incidents with such complete
freshness, liveliness, and variety, that the reader from time to time
may well forget himself, and fancy he is reading a mere description
of the incidents of actual life. [194] We peep into a little Greek
town, and see in dainty miniature the bride coming from her chamber
with torch-bearers and dancers, the people gazing from their doors, a
quarrel between two persons in the market-place, the assembly of the
elders to decide upon it.  In another quartering is the spectacle of
a city besieged, the walls defended by the old men, while the
soldiers have stolen out and are lying in ambush.  There is a fight
on the river-bank; Ares and Athene, conspicuous in gold, and marked
as divine persons by a scale larger than that of their followers,
lead the host. The strange, mythical images of Kêr, Eris, and
Kudoimos mingle in the crowd.  A third space upon the shield depicts
the incidents of peaceful labour--the ploughshare passing through the
field, of enameled black metal behind it, and golden before; the cup
of mead held out to the ploughman when he reaches the end of the
furrow; the reapers with their sheaves; the king standing in silent
pleasure among them, intent upon his staff.  There are the labourers
in the vineyard in minutest detail; stakes of silver on which the
vines hang; the dark trench about it, and one pathway through the
midst; the whole complete and distinct, in variously coloured metal.
All things and living creatures are in their places--the cattle
coming to water to the sound of the herdsman's pipe, various music,
the rushes by the water-side, a lion-hunt with dogs, [195] the
pastures among the hills, a dance, the fair dresses of the male and
female dancers, the former adorned with swords, the latter with
crowns.  It is an image of ancient life, its pleasure and business.
For the centre, as in some quaint chart of the heavens, are the earth
and the sun, the moon and constellations; and to close in all, right
round, like a frame to the picture, the great river Oceanus, forming
the rim of the shield, in some metal of dark blue.

Still more fascinating, perhaps, because more completely realisable
by the fancy as an actual thing--realisable as a delightful place to
pass time in--is the description of the palace of Alcinous in the
little island town of the Phaeacians, to which we are introduced in
all the liveliness and sparkle of the morning, as real as something
seen last summer on the sea-coast; although, appropriately, Ulysses
meets a goddess, like a young girl carrying a pitcher, on his way up
from the sea.  Below the steep walls of the town, two projecting
jetties allow a narrow passage into a haven of stone for the ships,
into which the passer-by may look down, as they lie moored below the
roadway.  In the midst is the king's house, all glittering, again,
with curiously wrought metal; its brightness is "as the brightness of
the sun or of the moon."  The heart of Ulysses beats quickly when he
sees it standing amid plantations ingeniously watered, its floor and
walls of brass throughout, with continuous [196] cornice of dark
iron; the doors are of gold, the door-posts and lintels of silver,
the handles, again, of gold--

The walls were massy brass; the cornice high
Blue metals crowned in colours of the sky;
Rich plates of gold the folding-doors incase;
The pillars silver on a brazen base;
Silver the lintels deep-projecting o'er;
And gold the ringlets that command the door.

Dogs of the same precious metals keep watch on either side, like the
lions over the old gate-way of Mycenae, or the gigantic, human-headed
bulls at the entrance of an Assyrian palace.  Within doors the
burning lights at supper-time are supported in the hands of golden
images of boys, while the guests recline on a couch running all along
the wall, covered with peculiarly sumptuous women's work.

From these two glittering descriptions manifestly something must be
deducted; we are in wonder-land, and among supernatural or magical
conditions.  But the forging of the shield and the wonderful house of
Alcinous are no merely incongruous episodes in Homer, but the
consummation of what is always characteristic of him, a constant
preoccupation, namely, with every form of lovely craftsmanship,
resting on all things, as he says, like the shining of the sun.  We
seem to pass, in reading him, through the treasures of some royal
collection; in him the presentation of almost every aspect of life is
[197] beautified by the work of cunning hands.  The thrones, coffers,
couches of curious carpentry, are studded with bossy ornaments of
precious metal effectively disposed, or inlaid with stained ivory, or
blue cyanus, or amber, or pale amber-like gold; the surfaces of the
stone conduits, the sea-walls, the public washing-troughs, the
ramparts on which the weary soldiers rest themselves when returned to
Troy, are fair and smooth; all the fine qualities, in colour and
texture, of woven stuff are carefully noted--the fineness, closeness,
softness, pliancy, gloss, the whiteness or nectar-like tints in which
the weaver delights to work; to weave the sea-purple threads is the
appropriate function of queens and noble women.  All the Homeric
shields are more or less ornamented with variously coloured metal,
terrible sometimes, like Leonardo's, with some monster or grotesque.
The numerous sorts of cups are bossed with golden studs, or have
handles wrought with figures, of doves, for instance.  The great
brazen cauldrons bear an epithet which means flowery.  The trappings
of the horses, the various parts of the chariots, are formed of
various metals.  The women's ornaments and the instruments of their
toilet are described--

porpas te gnamptas th' helikas, kalukas te kai hormous+

--the golden vials for unguents.  Use and beauty are still undivided;
all that men's hands are set to make has still a fascination alike
for workmen [198] and spectators.  For such dainty splendour Troy,
indeed, is especially conspicuous.  But then Homer's Trojans are
essentially Greeks--Greeks of Asia; and Troy, though more advanced in
all elements of civilisation, is no real contrast to the western
shore of the Aegean.  It is no barbaric world that we see, but the
sort of world, we may think, that would have charmed also our
comparatively jaded sensibilities, with just that quaint simplicity
which we too enjoy in its productions; above all, in its wrought
metal, which loses perhaps more than any other sort of work by
becoming mechanical.  The metal-work which Homer describes in such
variety is all hammer-work, all the joinings being effected by pins
or riveting.  That is just the sort of metal-work which, in a certain
naïveté and vigour, is still of all work the most expressive of
actual contact with dexterous fingers; one seems to trace in it, on
every particle of the partially resisting material, the touch and
play of the shaping instruments, in highly trained hands, under the
guidance of exquisitely disciplined senses--that cachet, or seal of
nearness to the workman's hand, which is the special charm of all
good metal-work, of early metal-work in particular.

Such descriptions, however, it may be said, are mere poetical
ornament, of no value in helping us to define the character of an
age.  But what is peculiar in these Homeric descriptions, [199] what
distinguishes them from others at first sight similar, is a sort of
internal evidence they present of a certain degree of reality, signs
in them of an imagination stirred by surprise at the spectacle of
real works of art.  Such minute, delighted, loving description of
details of ornament, such following out of the ways in which brass,
gold, silver, or paler gold, go into the chariots and armour and
women's dress, or cling to the walls--the enthusiasm of the manner--
is the warrant of a certain amount of truth in all that.  The Greek
poet describes these things with the same vividness and freshness,
the same kind of fondness, with which other poets speak of flowers;
speaking of them poetically, indeed, but with that higher sort of
poetry which seems full of the lively impression of delightful things
recently seen.  Genuine poetry, it is true, is always naturally
sympathetic with all beautiful sensible things and qualities.  But
with how many poets would not this constant intrusion of material
ornament have produced a tawdry effect!  The metal would all be
tarnished and the edges blurred.  And this is because it is not
always that the products of even exquisite tectonics can excite or
refine the aesthetic sense.  Now it is probable that the objects of
oriental art, the imitations of it at home, in which for Homer this
actual world of art must have consisted, reached him in a quantity,
and with a novelty, just sufficient to warm and stimulate without
[200] surfeiting the imagination; it is an exotic thing of which he
sees just enough and not too much.  The shield of Achilles, the house
of Alcinous, are like dreams indeed, but this sort of dreaming winds
continuously through the entire Iliad and Odyssey--a child's dream
after a day of real, fresh impressions from things themselves, in
which all those floating impressions re-set themselves.  He is as
pleased in touching and looking at those objects as his own heroes;
their gleaming aspect brightens all he says, and has taken hold, one
might think, of his language, his very vocabulary becoming
chryselephantine.  Homer's artistic descriptions, though enlarged by
fancy, are not wholly imaginary, and the extant remains of monuments
of the earliest historical age are like lingering relics of that
dream in a tamer but real world.

The art of the heroic age, then, as represented in Homer, connects
itself, on the one side, with those fabulous jewels so prominent in
mythological story, and entwined sometimes so oddly in its
representation of human fortunes--the necklace of Eriphyle, the
necklace of Helen, which Menelaus, it was said, offered at Delphi to
Athene Pronoea, on the eve of his expedition against Troy--mythical
objects, indeed, but which yet bear witness even thus early to the
aesthetic susceptibility of the Greek temper.  But, on the other
hand, the art of the heroic age connects itself also with the actual
early beginnings [201] of artistic production.  There are touches of
reality, for instance, in Homer's incidental notices of its
instruments and processes; especially as regards the working of
metal.  He goes already to the potter's wheel for familiar, life-like
illustration.  In describing artistic wood-work he distinguishes
various stages of work; we see clearly the instruments for turning
and boring, such as the old-fashioned drill-borer, whirled round with
a string; he mentions the names of two artists, the one of an actual
workman, the other of a craft turned into a proper name--stray
relics, accidentally preserved, of a world, as we may believe, of
such wide and varied activity.  The forge of Hephaestus is a true
forge; the magic tripods on which he is at work are really put
together by conceivable processes, known in early times.
Compositions in relief similar to those which he describes were
actually made out of thin metal plates cut into a convenient shape,
and then beaten into the designed form by the hammer over a wooden
model.  These reliefs were then fastened to a differently coloured
metal background or base, with nails or rivets, for there is no
soldering of metals as yet.  To this process the ancients gave the
name of empaestik,+ such embossing being still, in our own time, a
beautiful form of metal-work.

Even in the marvellous shield there are other and indirect notes of
reality.  In speaking of the shield of Achilles, I departed
intentionally from [202] the order in which the subjects of the
relief are actually introduced in the Iliad, because, just then, I
wished the reader to receive the full effect of the variety and
elaborateness of the composition, as a representation or picture of
the whole of ancient life embraced within the circumference of a
shield.  But in the order in which Homer actually describes those
episodes he is following the method of a very practicable form of
composition, and is throughout much closer than we might at first
sight suppose to the ancient armourer's proceedings.  The shield is
formed of five superimposed plates of different metals, each plate of
smaller diameter than the one immediately below it, their flat
margins showing thus as four concentric stripes or rings of metal,
around a sort of boss in the centre, five metals thick, and the
outermost circle or ring being the thinnest. To this arrangement the
order of Homer's description corresponds.  The earth and the heavenly
bodies are upon this boss in the centre, like a little distant heaven
hung above the broad world, and from this Homer works out, round and
round, to the river Oceanus, which forms the border of the whole; the
subjects answering to, or supporting each other, in a sort of
heraldic order--the city at peace set over against the city besieged-
-spring, summer, and autumn balancing each other--quite congruously
with a certain heraldic turn common in contemporary Assyrian art,
which delights in [203] this sort of conventional spacing out of its
various subjects, and especially with some extant metal chargers of
Assyrian work, which, like some of the earliest Greek vases with
their painted plants and flowers conventionally arranged, illustrate
in their humble measure such heraldic grouping.

The description of the shield of Hercules, attributed to Hesiod, is
probably an imitation of Homer, and, notwithstanding some fine
mythological impersonations which it contains, an imitation less
admirable than the original.  Of painting there are in Homer no
certain indications, and it is consistent with the later date of the
imitator that we may perhaps discern in his composition a sign that
what he had actually seen was a painted shield, in the pre-dominance
in it, as compared with the Homeric description, of effects of colour
over effects of form; Homer delighting in ingenious devices for
fastening the metal, and the supposed Hesiod rather in what seem like
triumphs of heraldic colouring; though the latter also delights in
effects of mingled metals, of mingled gold and silver especially--
silver figures with dresses of gold, silver centaurs with pine-trees
of gold for staves in their hands.  Still, like the shield of
Achilles, this too we must conceive as formed of concentric plates of
metal; and here again that spacing is still more elaborately carried
out, narrower intermediate rings being apparently [204] introduced
between the broader ones, with figures in rapid, horizontal, unbroken
motion, carrying the eye right round the shield, in contrast with the
repose of the downward or inward movement of the subjects which
divide the larger spaces; here too with certain analogies in the rows
of animals to the designs on the earliest vases.

In Hesiod then, as in Homer, there are undesigned notes of
correspondence between the partly mythical ornaments imaginatively
enlarged of the heroic age, and a world of actual handicrafts.  In
the shield of Hercules another marvellous detail is added in the
image of Perseus, very daintily described as hovering in some
wonderful way, as if really borne up by wings, above the surface.
And that curious, haunting sense of magic in art, which comes out
over and over again in Homer--in the golden maids, for instance, who
assist Hephaestus in his work, and similar details which seem at
first sight to destroy the credibility of the whole picture, and make
of it a mere wonder-land--is itself also, rightly understood, a
testimony to a real excellence in the art of Homer's time.  It is
sometimes said that works of art held to be miraculous are always of
an inferior kind; but at least it was not among those who thought
them inferior that the belief in their miraculous power began.  If
the golden images move like living creatures, and the armour of
Achilles, so [205] wonderfully made, lifts him like wings, this again
is because the imagination of Homer is really under the stimulus of
delightful artistic objects actually seen.  Only those to whom such
artistic objects manifest themselves through real and powerful
impressions of their wonderful qualities, can invest them with
properties magical or miraculous.

I said that the inherent usefulness of the material of metal-work
makes the destruction of its acquired form almost certain, if it
comes into the possession of people either barbarous or careless of
the work of a past time.  Greek art is for us, in all its stages, a
fragment only; in each of them it is necessary, in a somewhat
visionary manner, to fill up empty spaces, and more or less make
substitution; and of the finer work of the heroic age, thus dimly
discerned as an actual thing, we had at least till recently almost
nothing.  Two plates of bronze, a few rusty nails, and certain rows
of holes in the inner surface of the walls of the "treasury" of
Mycenae, were the sole representatives of that favourite device of
primitive Greek art, the lining of stone walls with burnished metal,
of which the house of Alcinous in the Odyssey is the ideal picture,
and the temple of Pallas of the Brazen House at Sparta, adorned in
the interior with a coating of reliefs in metal, a later, historical
example.  Of the heroic or so-called Cyclopean architecture, that
"treasury," [206] a building so imposing that Pausanias thought it
worthy to rank with the Pyramids, is a sufficient illustration.
Treasury, or tomb, or both (the selfish dead, perhaps, being supposed
still to find enjoyment in the costly armour, goblets, and mirrors
laid up there), this dome-shaped building, formed of concentric rings
of stones gradually diminishing to a coping-stone at the top, may
stand as the representative of some similar buildings in other parts
of Greece, and of many others in a similar kind of architecture
elsewhere, constructed of large many-sided blocks of stone, fitted
carefully together without the aid of cement, and remaining in their
places by reciprocal resistance.  Characteristic of it is the general
tendency to use vast blocks of stone for the jambs and lintels of
doors, for instance, and in the construction of gable-shaped
passages; two rows of such stones being made to rest against each
other at an acute angle, within the thickness of the walls.

So vast and rude, fretted by the action of nearly three thousand
years, the fragments of this architecture may often seem, at first
sight, like works of nature.  At Argos, Tiryns, Mycenae, the skeleton
of the old architecture is more complete.  At Mycenae the gateway of
the acropolis is still standing with its two well-known sculptured
lions--immemorial and almost unique monument of primitive Greek
sculpture--supporting, herald-wise, a symbolical pillar on the [207]
vast, triangular, pedimental stone above.  The heads are gone, having
been fashioned possibly in metal by workmen from the East.  On what
may be called the façade, remains are still discernible of inlaid
work in coloured stone, and within the gateway, on the smooth slabs
of the pavement, the wheel-ruts are still visible.  Connect them with
those metal war-chariots in Homer, and you may see in fancy the whole
grandiose character of the place, as it may really have been.  Shut
within the narrow enclosure of these shadowy citadels were the
palaces of the kings, with all that intimacy which we may sometimes
suppose to have been alien from the open-air Greek life, admitting,
doubtless, below the cover of their rough walls, many of those
refinements of princely life which the Middle Age found possible in
such places, and of which the impression is so fascinating in Homer's
description, for instance, of the house of Ulysses, or of Menelaus at
Sparta.  Rough and frowning without, these old châteaux of the Argive
kings were delicate within with a decoration almost as dainty and
fine as the network of weed and flower that now covers their ruins,
and of the delicacy of which, as I said, that golden flower on its
silver stalk or the golden honeycomb of Daedalus, might be taken as
representative.  In these metal-like structures of self-supporting
polygons, locked so firmly and impenetrably together, with the whole
mystery of the reasonableness [208] of the arch implicitly within
them, there is evidence of a complete artistic command over weight in
stone, and an understanding of the "law of weight."  But over weight
only; the ornament still seems to be not strictly architectural, but,
according to the notices of  Homer, tectonic, borrowed from the
sister arts, above all from the art of the metal-workers, to whom
those spaces of the building are left which a later age fills with
painting, or relief in stone.  The skill of the Asiatic comes to
adorn this rough native building; and it is a late, elaborate,
somewhat voluptuous skill, we may understand, illustrated by the
luxury of that Asiatic chamber of Paris, less like that of a warrior
than of one going to the dance.  Coupled with the vastness of the
architectural works which actually remain, such descriptions as that
in Homer of the chamber of Paris and the house of Alcinous furnish
forth a picture of that early period--the tyrants' age, the age of
the acropoleis, the period of great dynasties with claims to "divine
right"' and in many instances at least with all the culture of their
time.  The vast buildings make us sigh at the thought of wasted human
labour, though there is a public usefulness too in some of these
designs, such as the draining of the Copaic lake, to which the backs
of the people are bent whether they will or not.  For the princes
there is much of that selfish personal luxury which is a constant
trait of feudalism in [209] all ages.  For the people, scattered over
the country, at their agricultural labour, or gathered in small
hamlets, there is some enjoyment, perhaps, of the aspect of that
splendour, of the bright warriors on the heights--a certain share of
the nobler pride of the tyrants themselves in those tombs and
dwellings.  Some surmise, also, there seems to have been, of the
"curse" of gold, with a dim, lurking suspicion of curious facilities
for cruelty in the command over those skilful artificers in metal--
some ingenious rack or bull "to pinch and peel"--the tradition of
which, not unlike the modern Jacques Bonhomme's shudder at the old
ruined French donjon or bastille, haunts, generations afterwards, the
ruins of those "labyrinths" of stone, where the old tyrants had their
pleasures.  For it is a mistake to suppose that that wistful sense of
eeriness in ruined buildings, to which most of us are susceptible, is
an exclusively modern feeling.  The name Cyclopean, attached to those
desolate remains of buildings which were older than Greek history
itself, attests their romantic influence over the fancy of the people
who thus attributed them to a superhuman strength and skill.  And the
Cyclopes, like all the early mythical names of artists, have this
note of reality, that they are names not of individuals but of
classes, the guilds or companies of workmen in which a certain craft
was imparted and transmitted.  The Dactyli, the Fingers, are the
[210] first workers in iron; the savage Chalybes in Scythia the first
smelters; actual names are given to the old, fabled Telchines--
Chalkon, Argyron, Chryson--workers in brass, silver, and gold,
respectively.+  The tradition of their activity haunts the several
regions where those metals were found.  They make the trident of
Poseidon; but then Poseidon's trident is a real fisherman's
instrument, the tunny-fork.  They are credited, notwithstanding, with
an evil sorcery, unfriendly to men, as poor humanity remembered the
makers of chains, locks, Procrustean beds; and, as becomes this dark
recondite mine and metal work, the traditions about them are gloomy
and grotesque, confusing mortal workmen with demon guilds.

To this view of the heroic age of Greek art as being, so to speak, an
age of real gold, an age delighting itself in precious material and
exquisite handiwork in all tectonic crafts, the recent extraordinary
discoveries at Troy and Mycenae are, on any plausible theory of their
date and origin, a witness.  The aesthetic critic needs always to be
on his guard against the confusion of mere curiosity or antiquity
with beauty in art.  Among the objects discovered at Troy--mere
curiosities, some of them, however interesting and instructive--the
so-called royal cup of Priam, in solid gold, two-handled and double-
lipped, (the smaller lip designed for the host and his libation, the
larger for the guest,) has, in the [211] very simplicity of its
design, the grace of the economy with which it exactly fulfils its
purpose, a positive beauty, an absolute value for the aesthetic
sense, while strange and new enough, if it really settles at last a
much-debated expression of Homer; while the "diadem," with its
twisted chains and flowers of pale gold, shows that those profuse
golden fringes, waving so comely as he moved, which Hephaestus
wrought for the helmet of Achilles, were really within the compass of
early Greek art.

And the story of the excavations at Mycenae reads more like some
well-devised chapter of fiction than a record of sober facts.  Here,
those sanguine, half-childish dreams of buried treasure discovered in
dead men's graves, which seem to have a charm for every one, are more
than fulfilled in the spectacle of those antique kings, lying in the
splendour of their crowns and breastplates of embossed plate of gold;
their swords, studded with golden imagery, at their sides, as in some
feudal monument; their very faces covered up most strangely in golden
masks.  The very floor of one tomb, we read, was thick with gold-
dust--the heavy gilding fallen from some perished kingly vestment; in
another was a downfall of golden leaves and flowers; and, amid this
profusion of thin fine fragments, were rings, bracelets, smaller
crowns as if for children, dainty butterflies for ornaments of
dresses, and that golden flower on a silver stalk--all of pure, [212]
soft gold, unhardened by alloy, the delicate films of which one must
touch but lightly, yet twisted and beaten, by hand and hammer, into
wavy, spiral relief, the cuttle-fish with its long undulating arms
appearing frequently.

It is the very image of the old luxurious life of the princes of the
heroic age, as Homer describes it, with the arts in service to its
kingly pride.  Among the other costly objects was one representing
the head of a cow, grandly designed in gold with horns of silver,
like the horns of the moon, supposed to be symbolical of Here, the
great object of worship at Argos.  One of the interests of the study
of mythology is that it reflects the ways of life and thought of the
people who conceived it; and this religion of Here, the special
religion of Argos, is congruous with what has been here said as to
the place of art in the civilisation of the Argives; it is a
reflexion of that splendid and wanton old feudal life.  For Here is,
in her original essence and meaning, equivalent to Demeter--the one
living spirit of the earth, divined behind the veil of all its
manifold visible energies.  But in the development of a common
mythological motive the various peoples are subject to the general
limitations of their life and thought; they can but work outward what
is within them; and the religious conceptions and usages, ultimately
derivable from one and the same rudimentary instinct, are sometimes
most diverse.  Out of [213] the visible, physical energies of the
earth and its system of annual change, the old Pelasgian mind
developed the person of Demeter, mystical and profoundly aweful, yet
profoundly pathetic, also, in her appeal to human sympathies.  Out of
the same original elements, the civilisation of Argos, on the other
hand, developes the religion of Queen Here, a mere Demeter, at best,
of gaudy flower-beds, whose toilet Homer describes with all its
delicate fineries; though, characteristically, he may still allow us
to detect, perhaps, some traces of the mystical person of the earth,
in the all-pervading scent of the ambrosial unguent with which she
anoints herself, in the abundant tresses of her hair, and in the
curious variegation of her ornaments.  She has become, though with
some reminiscence of the mystical earth, a very limited human person,
wicked, angry, jealous--the lady of Zeus in her castle-sanctuary at
Mycenae, in wanton dalliance with the king, coaxing him for cruel
purposes in sweet sleep, adding artificial charms to her beauty.

Such are some of the characteristics with which Greek art is
discernible in that earliest age.  Of themselves, they almost answer
the question which next arises--Whence did art come to Greece? or was
it a thing of absolutely native growth there?  So some have decidedly
maintained.  Others, who lived in an age possessing little or no
knowledge of Greek monuments anterior to the full development of art
under [214] Pheidias, and who, in regard to the Greek sculpture of
the age of Pheidias, were like people criticising Michelangelo,
without knowledge of the earlier Tuscan school--of the works of
Donatello and Mino da Fiesole--easily satisfied themselves with
theories of its importation ready-made from other countries.  Critics
in the last century, especially, noticing some characteristics which
early Greek work has in common, indeed, with Egyptian art, but which
are common also to all such early work everywhere, supposed, as a
matter of course, that it came, as the Greek religion also, from
Egypt--that old, immemorial half-known birthplace of all wonderful
things.  There are, it is true, authorities for this derivation among
the Greeks themselves, dazzled as they were by the marvels of the
ancient civilisation of Egypt, a civilisation so different from their
own, on the first opening of Egypt to Greek visitors.  But, in fact,
that opening did not take place till the reign of Psammetichus, about
the middle of the seventh century B.C., a relatively late date.
Psammetichus introduced and settled Greek mercenaries in Egypt, and,
for a time, the Greeks came very close to Egyptian life.  They can
hardly fail to have been stimulated by that display of every kind of
artistic workmanship gleaming over the whole of life; they may in
turn have freshened it with new motives.  And we may remark, that but
for the peculiar usage of Egypt concerning the tombs of the dead, but
[215] for their habit of investing the last abodes of the dead with
all the appurtenances of active life, out of that whole world of art,
so various and elaborate, nothing but the great, monumental works in
stone would have remained to ourselves.  We should have experienced
in regard to it, what we actually experience too much in our
knowledge of Greek art--the lack of a fitting background, in the
smaller tectonic work, for its great works in architecture, and the
bolder sort of sculpture.

But, one by one, at last, as in the medieval parallel, monuments
illustrative of the earlier growth of Greek art before the time of
Pheidias have come to light, and to a just appreciation.  They show
that the development of Greek art had already proceeded some way
before the opening of Egypt to the Greeks, and point, if to a foreign
source at all, to oriental rather than Egyptian influences; and the
theory which derived Greek art, with many other Greek things, from
Egypt, now hardly finds supporters.  In Greece all things are at once
old and new.  As, in physical organisms, the actual particles of
matter have existed long before in other combinations; and what is
really new in a new organism is the new cohering force--the mode of
life,--so, in the products of Greek civilisation, the actual elements
are traceable elsewhere by antiquarians who care to trace them; the
elements, for instance, of its peculiar national [216] architecture.
Yet all is also emphatically autochthonous, as the Greeks said,
new-born at home, by right of a new, informing, combining spirit
playing over those mere elements, and touching them, above all,
with a wonderful sense of the nature and destiny of man--the dignity
of his soul and of his body--so that in all things the Greeks are
as discoverers.  Still, the original and primary motive seems,
in matters of art, to have come from without; and the view to which
actual discovery and all true analogies more and more point is that
of a connexion of the origin of Greek art, ultimately with Assyria,
proximately with Phoenicia, partly through Asia Minor, and chiefly
through Cyprus--an original connexion again and again re-asserted,
like a surviving trick of inheritance, as in later times it came
in contact with the civilisation of Caria and Lycia, old affinities
being here linked anew; and with a certain Asiatic tradition, of
which one representative is the Ionic style of architecture,
traceable all through Greek art--an Asiatic curiousness, or poikilia,+
strongest in that heroic age of which I have been speaking, and
distinguishing some schools and masters in Greece more than others;
and always in appreciable distinction from the more clearly defined
and self-asserted Hellenic influence.  Homer himself witnesses to the
intercourse, through early, adventurous commerce, as in the bright
and animated picture with which [217] the history of Herodotus
begins, between the Greeks and Eastern countries.  We may, perhaps,
forget sometimes, thinking over the greatness of its place in the
history of civilisation, how small a country Greece really was; how
short the distances upwards, from island to island, to the coast of
Asia, so that we can hardly make a sharp separation between Asia and
Greece, nor deny, besides great and palpable acts of importation, all
sorts of impalpable Asiatic influences, by way alike of attraction
and repulsion, upon Greek manners and taste.  Homer, as we saw, was
right in making Troy essentially a Greek city, with inhabitants
superior in all culture to their kinsmen on the Western shore, and
perhaps proportionally weaker on the practical or moral side, and
with an element of languid Ionian voluptuousness in them, typified by
the cedar and gold of the chamber of Paris--an element which the
austere, more strictly European influence of the Dorian Apollo will
one day correct in all genuine Greeks.  The Aegean, with its islands,
is, then, a bond of union, not a barrier; and we must think of
Greece, as has been rightly said, as its whole continuous shore.

The characteristics of Greek art, indeed, in the heroic age, so far
as we can discern them, are those also of Phoenician art, its delight
in metal among the rest, of metal especially as an element in
architecture, the covering of everything with plates of metal.  It
was from [218] Phoenicia that the costly material in which early
Greek art delighted actually came--ivory, amber, much of the precious
metals.  These the adventurous Phoenician traders brought in return
for the mussel which contained the famous purple, in quest of which
they penetrated far into all the Greek havens.  Recent discoveries
present the island of Cyprus, the great source of copper and copper-
work in ancient times, as the special mediator between the art of
Phoenicia and Greece; and in some archaic figures of Aphrodite with
her dove, brought from Cyprus and now in the British Museum--objects
you might think, at first sight, taken from the niches of a French
Gothic cathedral--are some of the beginnings, at least, of Greek
sculpture manifestly under the influence of Phoenician masters.  And,
again, mythology is the reflex of characteristic facts.  It is
through Cyprus that the religion of Aphrodite comes from Phoenicia to
Greece.  Here, in Cyprus, she is connected with some other kindred
elements of mythological tradition, above all with the beautiful old
story of Pygmalion, in which the thoughts of art and love are
connected so closely together.  First of all, on the prows of the
Phoenician ships, the tutelary image of Aphrodite Euploea, the
protectress of sailors, comes to Cyprus--to Cythera; it is in this
simplest sense that she is, primarily, Anadyomene.+  And her
connexion [219] with the arts is always an intimate one.  In Cyprus
her worship is connected with an architecture, not colossal, but full
of dainty splendour--the art of the shrine-maker, the maker of
reliquaries; the art of the toilet, the toilet of Aphrodite; the
Homeric hymn to Aphrodite is full of all that; delight in which we
have seen to be characteristic of the true Homer.

And now we see why Hephaestus, that crook-backed and uncomely god, is
the husband of Aphrodite.  Hephaestus is the god of fire, indeed; as
fire he is flung from heaven by Zeus; and in the marvellous contest
between Achilles and the river Xanthus in the twenty-first book of
the Iliad, he intervenes in favour of the hero, as mere fire against
water.  But he soon ceases to be thus generally representative of the
functions of fire, and becomes almost exclusively representative of
one only of its aspects, its function, namely, in regard to early
art; he becomes the patron of smiths, bent with his labour at the
forge, as people had seen such real workers; he is the most perfectly
developed of all the Daedali, Mulcibers, or Cabeiri.  That the god of
fire becomes the god of all art, architecture included, so that he
makes the houses of the gods, and is also the husband of Aphrodite,
marks a threefold group of facts; the prominence, first, of a
peculiar kind of art in early Greece, that beautiful metal-work, with
[220] which he is bound and bent; secondly, the connexion of this,
through Aphrodite, with an almost wanton personal splendour; the
connexion, thirdly, of all this with Cyprus and Phoenicia, whence,
literally, Aphrodite comes.  Hephaestus is the "spiritual form" of
the Asiatic element in Greek art.

This, then, is the situation which the first period of Greek art
comprehends; a people whose civilisation is still young, delighting,
as the young do, in ornament, in the sensuous beauty of ivory and
gold, in all the lovely productions of skilled fingers.  They receive
all this, together with the worship of Aphrodite, by way of Cyprus,
from Phoenicia, from the older, decrepit Eastern civilisation, itself
long since surfeited with that splendour; and they receive it in
frugal quantity, so frugal that their thoughts always go back to the
East, where there is the fulness of it, as to a wonder-land of art.
Received thus in frugal quantity, through many generations, that
world of Asiatic tectonics stimulates the sensuous capacity in them,
accustoms the hand to produce and the eye to appreciate the more
delicately enjoyable qualities of material things.  But nowhere in
all this various and exquisite world of design is there as yet any
adequate sense of man himself, nowhere is there an insight into or
power over human form as the expression of human soul.  Yet those
arts of design in which that younger people delights [221] have in
them already, as designed work, that spirit of reasonable order, that
expressive congruity in the adaptation of means to ends, of which the
fully developed admirableness of human form is but the consummation--
a consummation already anticipated in the grand and animated figures
of epic poetry, their power of thought, their laughter and tears.
Under the hands of that younger people, as they imitate and pass
largely and freely beyond those older craftsmen, the fire of the
reasonable soul will kindle, little by little, up to the Theseus of
the Parthenon and the Venus of Melos.

The ideal aim of Greek sculpture, as of all other art, is to deal,
indeed, with the deepest elements of man's nature and destiny, to
command and express these, but to deal with them in a manner, and
with a kind of expression, as clear and graceful and simple, if it
may be, as that of the Japanese flower-painter.  And what the student
of Greek sculpture has to cultivate generally in himself is the
capacity for appreciating the expression of thought in outward form,
the constant habit of associating sense with soul, of tracing what we
call expression to its sources.  But, concurrently with this, he must
also cultivate, all along, a not less equally constant appreciation
of intelligent workmanship in work, and of design in things designed,
of the rational control of matter everywhere.  From many sources he
may feed this sense of intelligence [222] and design in the
productions of the minor crafts, above all in the various and
exquisite art of Japan.  Carrying a delicacy like that of nature
itself into every form of imitation, reproduction, and combination--
leaf and flower, fish and bird, reed and water--and failing only when
it touches the sacred human form, that art of Japan is not so unlike
the earliest stages of Greek art as might at first sight be supposed.
We have here, and in no mere fragments, the spectacle of a universal
application to the instruments of daily life of fitness and beauty,
in a temper still unsophisticated, as also unelevated, by the
divination of the spirit of man.  And at least the student must
always remember that Greek art was throughout a much richer and
warmer thing, at once with more shadows, and more of a dim
magnificence in its surroundings, than the illustrations of a
classical dictionary might induce him to think.  Some of the ancient
temples of Greece were as rich in aesthetic curiosities as a famous
modern museum.  That Asiatic poikilia,+ that spirit of minute and
curious loveliness, follows the bolder imaginative efforts of Greek
art all through its history, and one can hardly be too careful in
keeping up the sense of this daintiness of execution through the
entire course of its development.  It is not only that the minute
object of art, the tiny vase-painting, intaglio, coin, or cameo,
often reduces into the palm of the hand lines grander than those of
[223] many a life-sized or colossal figure; but there is also a sense
in which it may be said that the Venus of Melos, for instance, is but
a supremely well-executed object of vertu, in the most limited sense
of the term.  Those solemn images of the temple of Theseus are a
perfect embodiment of the human ideal, of the reasonable soul and of
a spiritual world; they are also the best made things of their kind,
as an urn or a cup is well made.

A perfect, many-sided development of tectonic crafts, a state such as
the art of some nations has ended in, becomes for the Greeks a mere
opportunity, a mere starting-ground for their imaginative presentment
of man, moral and inspired.  A world of material splendour, moulded
clay, beaten gold, polished stone;--the informing, reasonable soul
entering into that, reclaiming the metal and stone and clay, till
they are as full of living breath as the real warm body itself; the
presence of those two elements is continuous throughout the fortunes
of Greek art after the heroic age, and the constant right estimate of
their action and reaction, from period to period, its true
philosophy.

NOTES

192. +The related Greek noun technê is defined as follows: "art,
skill, regular method of making a thing."  (Liddell and Scott.)

193. *Il. xviii.468-608.

193. *Od. vii.37-132.

197. +Transliteration: porpas te gnamptas th' helikas, kalukas te kai
hormous.  Translation: "delicate brooches, spriralled bracelets,
rosettes, and necklaces."  Homer, Iliad 18.400.

201. +Empaestik derives from the verb empaiô, "to strike in, stamp."
(Liddell and Scott.)

210. +The names are etymological--chalkos, argyros, and chrysos
signify, respectively, brass (or copper), silver, and gold.

216. +Transliteration: poikilia.  Liddell and Scott definition:
"embroidery . . . (metaph.) cunning."  The metaphorical sense is the
one Pater invokes.

218. +Euploea . . . Anadyomene.  Euploea means "fair voyage";
Anadyomene, a participial form derived from the verb anadyô, "to
rise, esp. from the sea,"  (Liddell-Scott) may be rendered "she who
emerges from the sea."

222. +Transliteration: poikilia.  Liddell and Scott definition:
"embroidery . . . (metaph.) cunning."  The metaphorical sense is the
one Pater invokes.



BEGINNINGS OF GREEK SCULPTURE
II: THE AGE OF GRAVEN IMAGES

[224] CRITICS of Greek sculpture have often spoken of it as if it had
been always work in colourless stone, against an almost colourless
background.   Its real background, as I have tried to show, was a
world of exquisite craftsmanship, touching the minutest details of
daily life with splendour and skill, in close correspondence with a
peculiarly animated development of human existence--the energetic
movement and stir of typically noble human forms, quite worthily
clothed--amid scenery as poetic as Titian's.   If shapes of
colourless stone did come into that background, it was as the
undraped human form comes into some of Titian's pictures, only to
cool and solemnise its splendour; the work of the Greek sculptor
being seldom in quite colourless stone, nor always or chiefly in
fastidiously selected marble even, but often in richly toned metal
(this or that sculptor preferring some special variety of the bronze
he worked in, such as the [225] hepatizôn or liver-coloured bronze,
or the bright golden alloy of Corinth), and in its consummate
products chryselephantine,--work in gold and ivory, on a core of
cedar.  Pheidias, in the Olympian Zeus, in the Athene of the
Parthenon, fulfils what that primitive, heroic goldsmiths' age, dimly
discerned in Homer, already delighted in; and the celebrated work of
which I have first to speak now, and with which Greek sculpture
emerges from that half-mythical age and becomes in a certain sense
historical, is a link in that goldsmiths' or chryselephantine
tradition, carrying us forwards to the work of Pheidias, backwards to
the elaborate Asiatic furniture of the chamber of Paris.

When Pausanias visited Olympia, towards the end of the second century
after Christ, he beheld, among other precious objects in the temple
of Here, a splendidly wrought treasure-chest of cedar-wood, in which,
according to a legend, quick as usual with the true human colouring,
the mother of Cypselus had hidden him, when a child, from the enmity
of her family, the Bacchiadae, then the nobility of Corinth.   The
child, named Cypselus after this incident (Cypsele being a Corinthian
word for chest), became tyrant of Corinth, and his grateful
descendants, as it was said, offered the beautiful old chest to the
temple of Here, as a memorial of his preservation.   That would have
been not long after the year 625 B.C.  So much for the [226] story
which Pausanias heard--but inherent probability, and some points of
detail in his description, tend to fix the origin of the chest at a
date at least somewhat later; and as Herodotus, telling the story of
the concealment of Cypselus, does not mention the dedication of the
chest at Olympia at all, it may perhaps have been only one of many
later imitations of antique art.   But, whatever its date, Pausanias
certainly saw the thing, and has left a long description of it, and
we may trust his judgment at least as to its archaic style.   We have
here, then, something plainly visible at a comparatively recent date,
something quite different from those perhaps wholly mythical objects
described in Homer,--an object which seemed to so experienced an
observer as Pausanias an actual work of earliest Greek art.
Relatively to later Greek art, it may have seemed to him, what the
ancient bronze doors with their Scripture histories, which we may
still see in the south transept of the cathedral of Pisa, are to
later Italian art.

Pausanias tells us nothing as to its size, nor directly as to its
shape.  It may, for anything he says, have been oval, but it was
probably rectangular, with a broad front and two narrow sides,
standing, as the maker of it had designed, against the wall; for, in
enumerating the various subjects wrought upon it, in five rows one
above another, he seems to proceed, beginning at the bottom on the
right-hand side, along the front [227] from right to left, and then
back again, through the second row from left to right, and,
alternating thus, upwards to the last subject, at the top, on the
left-hand side.

The subjects represented, most of which had their legends attached in
difficult archaic writing, were taken freely, though probably with a
leading idea, out of various poetic cycles, as treated in the works
of those so-called cyclic poets, who continued the Homeric tradition.
Pausanias speaks, as Homer does in his description of the shield of
Achilles, of a kind and amount of expression in feature and gesture
certainly beyond the compass of any early art, and we may believe we
have in these touches only what the visitor heard from enthusiastic
exegetae, the interpreters or sacristans; though any one who has seen
the Bayeux tapestry, for instance, must recognise the pathos and
energy of which, when really prompted by genius, even the earliest
hand is capable.  Some ingenious attempts have been made to restore
the grouping of the scenes, with a certain formal expansion or
balancing of subjects, their figures and dimensions, in true Assyrian
manner, on the front and sides.  We notice some fine emblematic
figures, the germs of great artistic motives in after times, already
playing their parts there,--Death, and Sleep, and Night.  "There was
a woman supporting on her right arm a white child sleeping; and on
the other arm she held a dark child, as if asleep; [228] and they lay
with their feet crossed.  And the inscription shows, what might be
understood without it, that they are Death and Sleep, and Night, the
nurse of both of them."

But what is most noticeable is, as I have already said, that this
work, like the chamber of Paris, like the Zeus of Pheidias, is
chryselephantine, its main fabric cedar, and the figures upon it
partly of ivory, partly of gold,* but (and this is the most peculiar
characteristic of its style) partly wrought out of the wood of the
chest itself.  And, as we read the description, we can hardly help
distributing in fancy gold and ivory, respectively, to their
appropriate functions in the representation.  The cup of Dionysus,
and the wings of certain horses there, Pausanias himself tells us
were golden.  Were not the apples of the Hesperides, the necklace of
Eriphyle, the bridles, the armour, the unsheathed sword in the hand
of Amphiaraus, also of gold?   Were not the other children, like the
white image of Sleep, especially the naked child Alcmaeon, of ivory?
with Alcestis and Helen, and that one of the Dioscuri whose beard was
still ungrown?  Were not ivory and gold, again, combined in the
throne of Hercules, and in the three goddesses conducted before
Paris?

The "chest of Cypselus" fitly introduces the first historical period
of Greek art, a period [229] coming down to about the year 560 B.C.,
and the government of Pisistratus at Athens; a period of tyrants like
Cypselus and Pisistratus himself, men of strong, sometimes
unscrupulous individuality, but often also acute and cultivated
patrons of the arts.  It begins with a series of inventions, one here
and another there,--inventions still for the most part technical, but
which are attached to single names; for, with the growth of art, the
influence of individuals, gifted for the opening of new ways, more
and more defines itself; and the school, open to all comers, from
which in turn the disciples may pass to all parts of Greece, takes
the place of the family, in which the knowledge of art descends as a
tradition from father to son, or of the mere trade-guild.  Of these
early industries we know little but the stray notices of Pausanias,
often ambiguous, always of doubtful credibility.  What we do see,
through these imperfect notices, is a real period of animated
artistic activity, richly rewarded.  Byzes of Naxos, for instance, is
recorded as having first adopted the plan of sawing marble into thin
plates for use on the roofs of temples instead of tiles; and that his
name has come down to us at all, testifies to the impression this
fair white surface made on its first spectators.  Various islands of
the Aegean become each the source of some new artistic device.  It is
a period still under the reign of Hephaestus, delighting, above all,
in magnificent [230] metal-work.  "The Samians," says Herodotus, "out
of a tenth part of their profits--a sum of six talents--caused a
mixing vessel of bronze to be made, after the Argolic fashion; around
it are projections of griffins' heads; and they dedicated it in the
temple of Here, placing beneath it three colossal figures of bronze,
seven cubits in height, leaning upon their knees."  That was in the
thirty-seventh Olympiad, and may be regarded as characteristic of the
age.  For the popular imagination, a kind of glamour, some mysterious
connexion of the thing with human fortunes, still attaches to the
curious product of artistic hands, to the ring of Polycrates, for
instance, with its early specimen of engraved smaragdus, as to the
mythical necklace of Harmonia.  Pheidon of Argos first makes coined
money, and the obelisci--the old nail-shaped iron money, now disused-
-are hung up in the temple of Here; for, even thus early, the temples
are in the way of becoming museums.  Names like those of Eucheir and
Eugrammus, who were said to have taken the art of baking clay vases
from Samos to Etruria, have still a legendary air, yet may be real
surnames; as in the case of Smilis, whose name is derived from a
graver's tool, and who made the ancient image of Here at Samos.
Corinth--mater statuariae--becomes a great nursery of art at an early
time.  Some time before the twenty-ninth Olympiad, Butades of Sicyon,
the potter, settled there.  The record of [231] early inventions in
Greece is sometimes fondly coloured with human sentiment or incident.
It is on the butterfly wing of such an incident--the love-sick
daughter of the artist, who outlines on the wall the profile of her
lover as he sleeps in the lamplight, to keep by her in absence--that
the name of Butades the potter has come down to us.  The father fills
up the outline, long preserved, it was believed, in the Nymphaeum at
Corinth, and hence the art of modelling from the life in clay.  He
learns, further, a way of colouring his clay red, and fixes his masks
along the temple eaves.

The temple of Athene Chalcioecus--Athene of the brazen house--at
Sparta, the work of Gitiades, celebrated about this time as
architect, statuary, and poet; who made, besides the image in her
shrine, and besides other Dorian songs, a hymn to the goddess--was so
called from its crust or lining of bronze plates, setting forth, in
richly embossed imagery, various subjects of ancient legend.  What
Pausanias, who saw it, describes, is like an elaborate development of
that method of covering the interiors of stone buildings with metal
plates, of which the "Treasury" at Mycenae is the earliest
historical, and the house of Alcinous the heroic, type.  In the pages
of Pausanias, that glitter, "as of the moon or the sun," which
Ulysses stood still to wonder at, may still be felt.  And on the
right hand of this "brazen house," he tells us, stood an [232] image
of Zeus, also of bronze, the most ancient of all images of bronze.
This had not been cast, nor wrought out of a single mass of metal,
but, the various parts having been finished separately (probably
beaten to shape with the hammer over a wooden mould), had been fitted
together with nails or rivets.  That was the earliest method of
uniting the various parts of a work in metal--image, or vessel, or
breastplate--a method allowing of much dainty handling of the cunning
pins and rivets, and one which has its place still, in perfectly
accomplished metal-work, as in the equestrian statue of Bartolomeo
Coleoni, by Andrea Verrocchio, in the piazza of St. John and St. Paul
at Venice.  In the British Museum there is a very early specimen of
it,--a large egg-shaped vessel, fitted together of several pieces,
the projecting pins or rivets, forming a sort of diadem round the
middle, being still sharp in form and heavily gilt.  That method gave
place in time to a defter means of joining the parts together, with
more perfect unity and smoothness of surface, the art of soldering;
and the invention of this art--of soldering iron, in the first
instance--is coupled with the name of Glaucus of Chios, a name which,
in connexion with this and other devices for facilitating the
mechanical processes of art,--for perfecting artistic effect with
economy of labour--became proverbial, the "art of Glaucus" being
attributed to those who work well with rapidity and ease.

[233] Far more fruitful still was the invention of casting, of
casting hollow figures especially, attributed to Rhoecus and
Theodorus, architects of the great temple at Samos.  Such hollow
figures, able, in consequence of their lightness, to rest, almost
like an inflated bladder, on a single point--the entire bulk of a
heroic rider, for instance, on the point of his horse's tail--admit
of a much freer distribution of the whole weight or mass required,
than is possible in any other mode of statuary; and the invention of
the art of casting is really the discovery of liberty in
composition.*

And, at last, about the year 576 B.C., we come to the first true
school of sculptors, the first clear example, as we seem to discern,
of a communicable style, reflecting and interpreting some real
individuality (the double personality, in this case, of two brothers)
in the masters who evolved it, conveyed to disciples who came to
acquire it from distant places, and taking root through them at
various centres, where the names of the [234] masters became
attached, of course,.  to many fair works really by the hands of the
pupils.  Dipoenus and Scyllis, these first true masters, were born in
Crete; but their work is connected mainly with Sicyon, at that time
the chief seat of Greek art.  "In consequence of some injury done
them," it is said, "while employed there upon certain sacred images,
they departed to another place, leaving their work unfinished; and,
not long afterwards, a grievous famine fell upon Sicyon.  Thereupon,
the people of Sicyon, inquiring of the Pythian Apollo how they might
be relieved, it was answered them, 'if Dipoenus and Scyllis should
finish those images of the gods'; which thing the Sicyonians obtained
from them, humbly, at a great price."  That story too, as we shall
see, illustrates the spirit of the age.  For their sculpture they
used the white marble of Paros, being workers in marble especially,
though they worked also in ebony and in ivory, and made use of
gilding.  "Figures of cedar-wood, partly incrusted with gold"--kedrou
zôdia chrysô diênthismena+--Pausanias says exquisitely, describing a
certain work of their pupil, Dontas of Lacedaemon.  It is to that
that we have definitely come at last, in the school of Dipoenus and
Scyllis.

Dry and brief as these details may seem, they are the witness to an
active, eager, animated period of inventions and beginnings, in which
the Greek workman triumphs over the first [235] rough mechanical
difficulties which beset him in the endeavour to record what his soul
conceived of the form of priest or athlete then alive upon the earth,
or of the ever-living gods, then already more seldom seen upon it.
Our own fancy must fill up the story of the unrecorded patience of
the workshop, into which we seem to peep through these scanty
notices--the fatigue, the disappointments, the steps repeated, ending
at last in that moment of success, which is all Pausanias records,
somewhat uncertainly.

And as this period begins with the chest of Cypselus, so it ends with
a work in some respects similar, also seen and described by
Pausanias--the throne, as he calls it, of the Amyclaean Apollo.  It
was the work of a well-known artist, Bathycles of Magnesia, who,
probably about the year 550 B.C., with a company of workmen, came to
the little ancient town of Amyclae, near Sparta, a place full of
traditions of the heroic age.  He had been invited thither to perform
a peculiar task--the construction of a throne; not like the throne of
the Olympian Zeus, and others numerous in after times, for a seated
figure, but for the image of the local Apollo; no other than a rude
and very ancient pillar of bronze, thirty cubits high, to which,
Hermes-wise, head, arms, and feet were attached.  The thing stood
upright, as on a base, upon a kind of tomb or reliquary, in which,
according to tradition, lay the remains of the young prince [236]
Hyacinth, son of the founder of that place, beloved by Apollo for his
beauty, and accidentally struck dead by him in play, with a quoit.
From the drops of the lad's blood had sprung up the purple flower of
his name, which bears on its petals the letters of the ejaculation of
woe; and in his memory the famous games of Amyclae were celebrated,
beginning about the time of the longest day, when the flowers are
stricken by the sun and begin to fade--a festival marked, amid all
its splendour, with some real melancholy, and serious thought of the
dead.  In the midst of the "throne" of Bathycles, this sacred
receptacle, with the strange, half-humanised pillar above it, was to
stand, probably in the open air, within a consecrated enclosure.
Like the chest of Cypselus, the throne was decorated with reliefs of
subjects taken from epic poetry, and it had supporting figures.
Unfortunately, what Pausanias tells us of this monument hardly
enables one to present it to the imagination with any completeness or
certainty; its dimensions he himself was unable exactly to ascertain,
and he does not tell us its material.  There are reasons, however,
for supposing that it was of metal; and amid these ambiguities, the
decorations of its base, the grave or altar-tomb of Hyacinth, shine
out clearly, and are also, for the most part, clear in their
significance.

"There are wrought upon the altar figures, on the one side of Biris,
on the other of [237] Amphitrite and Poseidon.  Near Zeus and Hermes,
in speech with each other, stand Dionysus and Semele, and, beside
her, Ino.  Demeter, Kore, and Pluto are also wrought upon it, the
Fates and the Seasons above them, and with them Aphrodite, Athene,
and Artemis.  They are conducting Hyacinthus to heaven, with
Polyboea, the sister of Hyacinthus, who died, as is told, while yet a
virgin. . . . Hercules also is figured on the tomb; he too carried to
heaven by Athene and the other gods.  The daughters of Thestius also
are upon the altar, and the Seasons again, and the Muses."

It was as if many lines of solemn thought had been meant to unite,
about the resting-place of this local Adonis, in imageries full of
some dim promise of immortal life.

But it was not so much in care for old idols as in the making of new
ones that Greek art was at this time engaged.  This whole first
period of Greek art might, indeed, be called the period of graven
images, and all its workmen sons of Daedalus; for Daedalus is the
mythical, or all but mythical, representative of all those arts which
are combined in the making of lovelier idols than had heretofore been
seen.  The old Greek word which is at the root of the name Daedalus,+
the name of a craft rather than a proper name, probably means to work
curiously--all curiously beautiful wood-work is Daedal work; the main
point about the curiously beautiful [238] chamber in which Nausicaa
sleeps, in the Odyssey, being that, like some exquisite Swiss châlet,
it is wrought in wood.  But it came about that those workers in wood,
whom Daedalus represents, the early craftsmen of Crete especially,
were chiefly concerned with the making of religious images, like the
carvers of Berchtesgaden and Oberammergau, the sort of daintily
finished images of the objects of public or private devotion which
such workmen would turn out.  Wherever there was a wooden idol in any
way fairer than others, finished, perhaps, sometimes, with colour and
gilding, and appropriate real dress, there the hand of Daedalus had
been.  That such images were quite detached from pillar or wall, that
they stood free, and were statues in the proper sense, showed that
Greek art was already liberated from its earlier Eastern
associations; such free-standing being apparently unknown in Assyrian
art.  And then, the effect of this Daedal skill in them was, that
they came nearer to the proper form of humanity.  It is the wonderful
life-likeness of these early images which tradition celebrates in
many anecdotes, showing a very early instinctive turn for, and
delight in naturalism, in the Greek temper.  As Cimabue, in his day,
was able to charm men, almost as with illusion, by the simple device
of half-closing the eyelids of his personages, and giving them,
instead of round eyes, eyes that seemed to be in some degree
sentient, and to feel [239] the light; so the marvellous progress in
those Daedal wooden images was, that the eyes were open, so that they
seemed to look,--the feet separated, so that they seemed to walk.
Greek art is thus, almost from the first, essentially distinguished
from the art of Egypt, by an energetic striving after truth in
organic form.  In representing the human figure, Egyptian art had
held by mathematical or mechanical proportions exclusively.  The
Greek apprehends of it, as the main truth, that it is a living
organism, with freedom of movement, and hence the infinite
possibilities of motion, and of expression by motion, with which the
imagination credits the higher sort of Greek sculpture; while the
figures of Egyptian art, graceful as they often are, seem absolutely
incapable of any motion or gesture, other than the one actually
designed.  The work of the Greek sculptor, together with its more
real anatomy, becomes full also of human soul.

That old, primitive, mystical, first period of Greek religion, with
its profound, though half-conscious, intuitions of spiritual powers
in the natural world, attaching itself not to the worship of visible
human forms, but to relics, to natural or half-natural objects--the
roughly hewn tree, the unwrought stone, the pillar, the holy cone of
Aphrodite in her dimly-lighted cell at Paphos--had passed away.  The
second stage in the development of Greek religion had come; a [240]
period in which poet and artist were busily engaged in the work of
incorporating all that might be retained of the vague divinations of
that earlier visionary time, in definite and intelligible human image
and human story.  The vague belief, the mysterious custom and
tradition, develope themselves into an elaborately ordered ritual--
into personal gods, imaged in ivory and gold, sitting on beautiful
thrones.  Always, wherever a shrine or temple, great or small, is
mentioned, there, we may conclude, was a visible idol, there was
conceived to be the actual dwelling-place of a god.  And this
understanding became not less but more definite, as the temple became
larger and more splendid, full of ceremony and servants, like the
abode of an earthly king, and as the sacred presence itself assumed,
little by little, the last beauties and refinements of the visible
human form and expression.

In what we have seen of this first period of Greek art, in all its
curious essays and inventions, we may observe this demand for
beautiful idols increasing in Greece--for sacred images, at first
still rude, and in some degree the holier for their rudeness, but
which yet constitute the beginnings of the religious style,
consummate in the work of Pheidias, uniting the veritable image of
man in the full possession of his reasonable soul, with the true
religious mysticity, the signature there of something from afar.  One
by one these [241] new gods of bronze, or marble, or flesh-like
ivory, take their thrones, at this or that famous shrine, like the
images of this period which Pausanias saw in the temple of Here at
Olympia--the throned Seasons, with Themis as the mother of the
Seasons (divine rectitude being still blended, in men's fancies, with
the unchanging physical order of things) and Fortune, and Victory
"having wings," and Kore and Demeter and Dionysus, already visibly
there, around the image of Here herself, seated on a throne; and all
chryselephantine, all in gold and ivory.  Novel as these things are,
they still undergo consecration at their first erecting.  The figure
of Athene, in her brazen temple at Sparta, the work of Gitiades, who
makes also the image and the hymn, in triple service to the goddess;
and again, that curious story of Dipoenus and Scyllis, brought back
with so much awe to remove the public curse by completing their
sacred task upon the images, show how simply religious the age still
was--that this widespread artistic activity was a religious
enthusiasm also; those early sculptors have still, for their
contemporaries, a divine mission, with some kind of hieratic or
sacred quality in their gift, distinctly felt.

The development of the artist, in the proper sense, out of the mere
craftsman, effected in the first division of this period, is now
complete; and, in close connexion with that busy graving of religious
images, which occupies its second [242] division, we come to
something like real personalities, to men with individual
characteristics--such men as Ageladas of Argos, Callon and Onatas of
Aegina, and Canachus of Sicyon.  Mere fragment as our information
concerning these early masters is at the best, it is at least
unmistakeably information about men with personal differences of
temper and talent, of their motives, of what we call style.  We have
come to a sort of art which is no longer broadly characteristic of a
general period, one whose products we might have looked at without
its occurring to us to ask concerning the artist, his antecedents,
and his school.  We have to do now with types of art, fully impressed
with the subjectivity, the intimacies of the artist.

Among these freer and stronger personalities emerging thus about the
beginning of the fifth century before Christ--about the period of the
Persian war--the name to which most of this sort of personal quality
attaches, and which is therefore very interesting, is the name of
Canachus of Sicyon, who seems to have comprehended in himself all the
various attainments in art which had been gradually developed in the
schools of his native city--carver in wood, sculptor, brass-cutter,
and toreutes; by toreuticê+ being meant the whole art of statuary in
metals, and in their combination with other materials.  At last we
seem to see an actual person at work, and to some degree can follow,
with natural curiosity, [243] the motions of his spirit and his hand.
We seem to discern in all we know of his productions the results of
individual apprehension--the results, as well as the limitations, of
an individual talent.

It is impossible to date exactly the chief period of the activity of
Canachus.  That the great image of Apollo, which he made for the
Milesians, was carried away to Ecbatana by the Persian army, is
stated by Pausanias; but there is a doubt whether this was under
Xerxes, as Pausanias says, in the year 479 B.C., or twenty years
earlier, under Darius.  So important a work as this colossal image of
Apollo, for so great a shrine as the Didymaeum, was probably the task
of his maturity; and his career may, therefore, be regarded as having
begun, at any rate, prior to the year 479 B.C., and the end of the
Persian invasion the event which may be said to close this period of
art.  On the whole, the chief period of his activity is thought to
have fallen earlier, and to have occupied the last forty years of the
previous century; and he would thus have flourished, as we say, about
fifty years before the manhood of Pheidias, as Mino of Fiesole fifty
years before the manhood of Michelangelo.

His chief works were an Aphrodite, wrought for the Sicyonians in
ivory and gold; that Apollo of bronze carried away by the Persians,
and restored to its place about the year B.C. 350; and a reproduction
of the same work in cedar-wood [244], for the sanctuary of Apollo of
the Ismenus, at Thebes.  The primitive Greek worship, as we may trace
it in Homer, presents already, on a minor scale, all the essential
characteristics of the most elaborate Greek worship of after times--
the sacred enclosure, the incense and other offerings, the prayer of
the priest, the shrine itself--a small one, roofed in by the priest
with green boughs, not unlike a wayside chapel in modern times, and
understood to be the dwelling-place of the divine person--within,
almost certainly, an idol, with its own sacred apparel, a visible
form, little more than symbolical perhaps, like the sacred pillar for
which Bathycles made his throne at Amyclae, but, if an actual image,
certainly a rude one.

That primitive worship, traceable in almost all these particulars,
even in the first book of the Iliad, had given place, before the time
of Canachus at Sicyon, to a more elaborate ritual and a more
completely designed image-work; and a little bronze statue,
discovered on the site of Tenea, where Apollo was the chief object of
worship,* the best representative of many similar marble figures--
those of Thera and Orchomenus, for instance--is supposed to represent
Apollo as this still early age conceived him--youthful, naked,
muscular, and with the germ of the Greek profile, but formally
smiling, and with a formal diadem or fillet, over the long hair which
[245] shows him to be no mortal athlete.  The hands, like the feet,
excellently modelled, are here extended downwards at the sides; but
in some similar figures the hands are lifted, and held straight
outwards, with the palms upturned.  The Apollo of Canachus also had
the hands thus raised, and on the open palm of the right hand was
placed a stag, while with the left he grasped the bow.  Pliny says
that the stag was an automaton, with a mechanical device for setting
it in motion, a detail which hints, at least, at the subtlety of
workmanship with which those ancient critics, who had opportunity of
knowing, credited this early artist.  Of this work itself nothing
remains, but we possess perhaps some imitations of it.  It is
probably this most sacred possession of the place which the coins of
Miletus display from various points of view, though, of course, only
on the smallest scale.  But a little bronze figure in the British
Museum, with the stag in the right hand, and in the closed left hand
the hollow where the bow has passed, is thought to have been derived
from it; and its points of style are still further illustrated by a
marble head of similar character, also preserved in the British
Museum, which has many marks of having been copied in marble from an
original in bronze.  A really ancient work, or only archaic, it
certainly expresses, together with all that careful patience and
hardness of workmanship which is characteristic of an early age, a
certain Apolline [246] strength--a pride and dignity in the features,
so steadily composed, below the stiff, archaic arrangement of the
long, fillet-bound locks.  It is the exact expression of that midway
position, between an involved, archaic stiffness and the free play of
individual talent, which is attributed to Canachus by the ancients.

His Apollo of cedar-wood, which inhabited a temple near the gates of
Thebes, on a rising ground, below which flowed the river Ismenus,
had, according to Pausanias, so close a resemblance to that at
Miletus that it required little skill in one who had seen either of
them to tell what master had designed the other.  Still, though of
the same dimensions, while one was of cedar the other was of bronze--
a reproduction one of the other we may believe, but with the
modifications, according to the use of good workmen even so early as
Canachus, due to the difference of the material.  For the likeness
between the two statues, it is to be observed, is not the mechanical
likeness of those earlier images represented by the statuette of
Tenea, which spoke, not of the style of one master, but only of the
manufacture of one workshop.  In those two images of Canachus--the
Milesian Apollo and the Apollo of the Ismenus--there were
resemblances amid differences; resemblances, as we may understand, in
what was nevertheless peculiar, novel, and even innovating in the
precise conception of the god therein set forth; [247] resemblances
which spoke directly of a single workman, though working freely, of
one hand and one fancy, a likeness in that which could by no means be
truly copied by another; it was the beginning of what we mean by the
style of a master.  Together with all the novelty, the innovating and
improving skill, which has made Canachus remembered, an attractive,
old-world, deeply-felt mysticity seems still to cling about what we
read of these early works.  That piety, that religiousness of temper,
of which the people of Sicyon had given proof so oddly in their
dealings with those old carvers, Scyllis and Dipoenus, still survives
in the master who was chosen to embody his own novelty of idea and
execution in so sacred a place as the shrine of Apollo at Miletus.
Something still conventional, combined, in these images, with the
effect of great artistic skill, with a palpable beauty and power,
seems to have given them a really imposing religious character.
Escaping from the rigid uniformities of the stricter archaic style,
he is still obedient to certain hieratic influences and traditions;
he is still reserved, self-controlled, composed or even mannered a
little, as in some sacred presence, with the severity and strength of
the early style.

But there are certain notices which seem to show that he had his
purely poetical motives also, as befitted his age; motives which
prompted works of mere fancy, like his Muse [248] with the Lyre,
symbolising the chromatic style of music; Aristocles his brother, and
Ageladas of Argos executing each another statue to symbolise the two
other orders of music.  The Riding Boys, of which Pliny speaks, like
the mechanical stag on the hand of Apollo, which he also describes,
were perhaps mechanical toys, as Benvenuto Cellini made toys.  In the
Beardless Aesculapius, again--the image of the god of healing, not
merely as the son of Apollo, but as one ever young--it is the poetry
of sculpture that we see.

This poetic feeling, and the piety of temper so deeply impressed upon
his images of Apollo, seem to have been combined in his
chryselephantine Aphrodite, as we see it very distinctly in
Pausanias, enthroned with an apple in one hand and a poppy in the
other, and with the sphere, or polos, about the head, in its quaint
little temple or chapel at Sicyon, with the hierokêpis, or holy
garden, about it.  This is what Canachus has to give us instead of
the strange, symbolical cone, with the lights burning around it, in
its dark cell--the form under which Aphrodite was worshipped at her
famous shrine of Paphos.

"A woman to keep it fair," Pausanias tells us, "who may go in to no
man, and a virgin called the water-bearer, who holds her priesthood
for a year, are alone permitted to enter the sacred place.  All
others may gaze upon the [249] goddess and offer their prayers from
the doorway.  The seated image is the work of Canachus of Sicyon.  It
is wrought in ivory and gold, bearing a sphere on the head, and
having in the one hand a poppy and in the other an apple.  They offer
to her the thighs of all victims excepting swine, burning them upon
sticks of juniper, together with leaves of lad's-love, a herb found
in the enclosure without, and nowhere else in the world.  Its leaves
are smaller than those of the beech and larger than the ilex; in form
they are like an oak-leaf, and in colour resemble most the leaves of
the poplar, one side dusky, the other white."

That is a place one would certainly have liked to see.  So real it
seems!--the seated image, the people gazing through the doorway, the
fragrant odour.  Must it not still be in secret keeping somewhere?--
we are almost tempted to ask; maintained by some few solitary
worshippers, surviving from age to age, among the villagers of
Achaia.

In spite of many obscurities, it may be said that what we know, and
what we do not know, of Canachus illustrates the amount and sort of
knowledge we possess about the artists of the period which he best
represents.  A naïveté--a freshness, an early-aged simplicity and
sincerity--that, we may believe, had we their works before us, would
be for us their chief aesthetic charm.  Cicero remarked that, in
contrast with [250] the works of the next generation of sculptors,
there was a stiffness in the statues of Canachus which made them seem
untrue to nature--"Canachi signa rigidiora esse quam ut imitentur
veritatem."  But Cicero belongs to an age surfeited with artistic
licence, and likely enough to undervalue the severity of the early
masters, the great motive struggling still with the minute and rigid
hand.  So the critics of the last century ignored, or underrated, the
works of the earlier Tuscan sculptors.  In what Cicero calls
"rigidity" of Canachus, combined with what we seem to see of his
poetry of conception, his freshness, his solemnity, we may understand
no really repellent hardness, but only that earnest patience of
labour, the expression of which is constant in all the best work of
an early time, in the David of Verrocchio, for instance, and in the
early Flemish painters, as it is natural and becoming in youth
itself.  The very touch of the struggling hand was upon the work; but
with the interest, the half-repressed animation of a great promise,
fulfilled, as we now see, in the magnificent growth of Greek
sculpture in the succeeding age; which, however, for those earlier
workmen, meant the loins girt and the half-folded wings not yet quite
at home in the air, with a gravity, a discretion and reserve, the
charm of which, if felt in quiet, is hardly less than that of the
wealth and fulness of final mastery.

NOTES

228. *Chrysoun is the word Pausanias uses, of the cup in the hand of
Dionysus--the wood was plated with gold.  Liddell and Scott definition
of the adjective chryseos: "golden, of gold, inlaid with gold."

233. *Pausanias, in recording the invention of casting, uses the word
echôneusanto, but does not tell us whether the model was of wax, as in
the later process; which, however, is believed to have been the
case.  For an animated account of the modern process:--the core of
plaister roughly presenting the designed form; the modelling of the
waxen surface thereon, like the skin upon the muscles, with all its
delicate touches--vein and eyebrow; the hardening of the plaister
envelope, layer over layer, upon this delicately finished model; the
melting of the way by heat, leaving behind it in its place the
finished design in vacuo, which the molten stream of metal
subsequently fills; released finally, after cooling, from core and
envelope--see Fortnum's Handbook of Bronzes, Chapter II.

+Liddell and Scott definition of the noun chônê and the verb chônnymi:
"a melting-pit, a mould to cast in. . . . to throw or heap up . . .
to cover with a mound of earth, bury."

234. +Transliteration: kedrou zôdia chrysô diênthismena.  Pater's
translation: "Figures of cedar-wood, partly incrusted with gold."
The root verb anthizô means "to strew with flowers...and so, to dye
with colours."  (Liddell and Scott.)  Pausanias, Description of
Greece, Book VI, Chapter 19, Section 12.  Pausaniae Graeciae Descriptio,
3 vols. F. Spiro. Leipzig, Teubner. 1903.

237. +Daidaleos means "cunningly or curiously wrought"; it is derived
from the verb daidallô, "to work cunningly, work with curious
art...."  (Liddell and Scott.)

242. +The verb toreuô means "to bore through . . . to work in relief
. . . to chase."  (Liddell and Scott.)

244. *Now preserved at Munich.



THE MARBLES OF AEGINA

[251] I HAVE dwelt the more emphatically upon the purely sensuous
aspects of early Greek art, on the beauty and charm of its mere
material and workmanship, the grace of hand in it, its
chryselephantine character, because the direction of all the more
general criticism since Lessing has been, somewhat one-sidedly,
towards the ideal or abstract element in Greek art, towards what we
may call its philosophical aspect.  And, indeed, this philosophical
element, a tendency to the realisation of a certain inward, abstract,
intellectual ideal, is also at work in Greek art--a tendency which,
if that chryselephantine influence is called Ionian, may rightly be
called the Dorian, or, in reference to its broader scope, the
European influence; and this European influence or tendency is really
towards the impression of an order, a sanity, a proportion in all
work, which shall reflect the inward order of human reason, now fully
conscious of itself,--towards a sort of art in which the record and
delineation of humanity, as active in the wide, inward world of [252]
its passion and thought, has become more or less definitely the aim
of all artistic handicraft.

In undergoing the action of these two opposing influences, and by
harmonising in itself their antagonism, Greek sculpture does but
reflect the larger movements of more general Greek history.  All
through Greek history we may trace, in every sphere of the activity
of the Greek mind, the action of these two opposing tendencies,--the
centrifugal and centripetal tendencies, as we may perhaps not too
fancifully call them.  There is the centrifugal, the Ionian, the
Asiatic tendency, flying from the centre, working with little
forethought straight before it, in the development of every thought
and fancy; throwing itself forth in endless play of undirected
imagination; delighting in brightness and colour, in beautiful
material, in changeful form everywhere, in poetry, in philosophy,
even in architecture and its subordinate crafts.  In the social and
political order it rejoices in the freest action of local and
personal influences; its restless versatility drives it towards the
assertion of the principles of separatism, of individualism--the
separation of state from state, the maintenance of local religions,
the development of the individual in that which is most peculiar and
individual in him.  Its claim is in its grace, its freedom and
happiness, its lively interest, the variety of its gifts to
civilisation; its weakness is self-evident, and was what made the
unity of Greece impossible. [253] It is this centrifugal tendency
which Plato is desirous to cure, by maintaining, over against it, the
Dorian influence of a severe simplification everywhere, in society,
in culture, in the very physical nature of man.  An enemy everywhere
to variegation, to what is cunning or "myriad-minded," he sets
himself, in mythology, in music, in poetry, in every kind of art, to
enforce the ideal of a sort of Parmenidean abstractness and calm.

This exaggerated ideal of Plato's is, however, only the exaggeration
of that salutary European tendency, which, finding human mind the
most absolutely real and precious thing in the world, enforces
everywhere the impress of its sanity, its profound reflexions upon
things as they really are, its sense of proportion.  It is the
centripetal tendency, which links individuals to each other, states
to states, one period of organic growth to another, under the reign
of a composed, rational, self-conscious order, in the universal light
of the understanding.

Whether or not this temper, so clearly traceable as a distinct
influence in the course of Greek development, was indeed the peculiar
gift of the Dorian race, certainly that race is the best illustration
of it, in its love of order, of that severe composition everywhere,
of which the Dorian style of architecture is, as it were, a material
symbol--in its constant aspiration after what is earnest and
dignified, as exemplified most evidently in the religion of its
predilection, the religion of Apollo. [254] For as that Ionian
influence, the chryselephantine influence, had its patron in
Hephaestus, belonged to the religion of Hephaestus, husband of
Aphrodite, the representation of exquisite workmanship, of fine art
in metal, coming from the East in close connexion with the artificial
furtherance, through dress and personal ornament, of the beauty of
the body; so that Dorian or European influence embodied itself in the
religion of Apollo.  For the development of this or that mythological
conception, from its root in fact or law of the physical world, is
very various in its course.  Thus, Demeter, the spirit of life in
grass,--and Dionysus, the "spiritual form" of life in the green sap,-
-remain, to the end of men's thoughts and fancies about them, almost
wholly physical.  But Apollo, the "spiritual form" of sunbeams, early
becomes (the merely physical element in his constitution being almost
wholly suppressed) exclusively ethical,--the "spiritual form" of
inward or intellectual light, in all its manifestations.  He
represents all those specially European ideas, of a reasonable,
personal freedom, as understood in Greece; of a reasonable polity; of
the sanity of soul and body, through the cure of disease and of the
sense of sin; of the perfecting of both by reasonable exercise or
ascêsis; his religion is a sort of embodied equity, its aim the
realisation of fair reason and just consideration of the truth of
things everywhere.

[255] I cannot dwell on the general aspects of this subject further,
but I would remark that in art also the religion of Apollo was a
sanction of, and an encouragement towards the true valuation of
humanity, in its sanity, its proportion, its knowledge of itself.
Following after this, Greek art attained, in its reproductions of
human form, not merely to the profound expression of the highest
indwelling spirit of human intelligence, but to the expression also
of the great human passions, of the powerful movements as well as of
the calm and peaceful order of the soul, as finding in the affections
of the body a language, the elements of which the artist might
analyse, and then combine, order, and recompose.  In relation to
music, to art, to all those matters over which the Muses preside,
Apollo, as distinct from Hermes, seems to be the representative and
patron of what I may call reasonable music, of a great intelligence
at work in art, of beauty attained through the conscious realisation
of ideas.  They were the cities of the Dorian affinity which early
brought to perfection that most characteristic of Greek institutions,
the sacred dance, with the whole gymnastic system which was its
natural accompaniment.  And it was the familiar spectacle of that
living sculpture which developed, perhaps, beyond everything else in
the Greek mind, at its best, a sense of the beauty and significance
of the human form.

Into that bewildered, dazzling world of minute [256] and dainty
handicraft--the chamber of Paris, the house of Alcinous--in which the
form of man alone had no adequate place, and as yet, properly, was
not, this Dorian, European, Apolline influence introduced the
intelligent and spiritual human presence, and gave it its true value,
a value consistently maintained to the end of Greek art, by a steady
hold upon and preoccupation with the inward harmony and system of
human personality.

In the works of the Asiatic tradition--the marbles of Nineveh, for
instance--and, so far as we can see, in the early Greek art, which
derives from it, as, for example, in the archaic remains from Cyprus,
the form of man is inadequate, and below the measure of perfection
attained there in the representation of the lower forms of life; just
as in the little reflective art of Japan, so lovely in its
reproduction of flower or bird, the human form alone comes almost as
a caricature, or is at least untouched by any higher ideal.  To that
Asiatic tradition, then, with its perfect craftsmanship, its
consummate skill in design, its power of hand, the Dorian, the
European, the true Hellenic influence brought a revelation of the
soul and body of man.

And we come at last in the marbles of Aegina to a monument, which
bears upon it the full expression of this humanism,--to a work, in
which the presence of man, realised with complete mastery of hand,
and with clear apprehension of how he actually is and moves and
looks, [257] is touched with the freshest sense of that new-found,
inward value; the energy of worthy passions purifying, the light of
his reason shining through, bodily forms and motions, solemnised,
attractive, pathetic.  We have reached an extant work, real and
visible, of an importance out of all proportion to anything actually
remaining of earlier art, and justifying, by its direct interest and
charm, our long prelude on the beginnings of Greek sculpture, while
there was still almost nothing actually to see.

These fifteen figures of Parian marble, of about two-thirds the size
of life, forming, with some deficiencies, the east and west gables of
a temple of Athene, the ruins of which still stand on a hill-side by
the sea-shore, in a remote part of the island of Aegina, were
discovered in the year 1811, and having been purchased by the Crown
Prince, afterwards King Louis I., of Bavaria, are now the great
ornament of the Glyptothek, or Museum of Sculpture, at Munich.  The
group in each gable consisted of eleven figures; and of the fifteen
larger figures discovered, five belong to the eastern, ten to the
western gable, so that the western gable is complete with the
exception of one figure, which should stand in the place to which, as
the groups are arranged at Munich, the beautiful figure, bending down
towards the fallen leader, has been actually transferred from the
eastern gable; certain fragments showing that the lost figure [258]
corresponded essentially to this, which has therefore been removed
hither from its place in the less complete group to which it properly
belongs.  For there are two legitimate views or motives in the
restoration of ancient sculpture, the antiquarian and the aesthetic,
as they may be termed respectively; the former limiting itself to the
bare presentation of what actually remains of the ancient work,
braving all shock to living eyes from the mutilated nose or chin;
while the latter, the aesthetic method, requires that, with the least
possible addition or interference, by the most skilful living hand
procurable, the object shall be made to please, or at least content
the living eye seeking enjoyment and not a bare fact of science, in
the spectacle of ancient art.  This latter way of restoration,--the
aesthetic way,--followed by the famous connoisseurs of the
Renaissance, has been followed here; and the visitor to Munich
actually sees the marbles of Aegina, as restored after a model by the
tasteful hand of Thorwaldsen.

Different views have, however, been maintained as to the right
grouping of the figures; but the composition of the two groups was
apparently similar, not only in general character but in a certain
degree of correspondence of all the figures, each to each.  And in
both the subject is a combat,--a combat between Greeks and Asiatics
concerning the body of a Greek hero, fallen among the foemen,--an
incident so characteristic [259] of the poetry of the heroic wars.
In both cases, Athene, whose temple this sculpture was designed to
decorate, intervenes, her image being complete in the western gable,
the head and some other fragments remaining of that in the eastern.
The incidents represented were probably chosen with reference to the
traditions of Aegina in connexion with the Trojan war.  Greek legend
is ever deeply coloured by local interest and sentiment, and this
monument probably celebrates Telamon, and Ajax his son, the heroes
who established the fame of Aegina, and whom the united Greeks, on
the morning of the battle of Salamis, in which the Aeginetans were
distinguished above all other Greeks in bravery, invited as their
peculiar, spiritual allies from that island.

Accordingly, antiquarians are, for the most part, of opinion that the
eastern gable represents the combat of Hercules (Hercules being the
only figure among the warriors certainly to be identified), and of
his comrade Telamon, against Laomedon of Troy, in which, properly,
Hercules was leader, but here, as squire and archer, is made to give
the first place to Telamon, as the titular hero of the place.
Opinion is not so definite regarding the subject of the western
gable, which, however, probably represents the combat between the
Greeks and Trojans over the body of Patroclus.  In both cases an
Aeginetan hero, in the eastern gable Telamon, in the western [260]
his son Ajax, is represented in the extreme crisis of battle, such a
crisis as, according to the deep religiousness of the Greeks of that
age, was a motive for the visible intervention of the goddess in
favour of her chosen people.

Opinion as to the date of the work, based mainly on the
characteristics of the work itself, has varied within a period
ranging from the middle of the sixtieth to the middle of the
seventieth Olympiad, inclining on the whole to the later date, in the
period of the Ionian revolt against Persia, and a few years earlier
than the battle of Marathon.

In this monument, then, we have a revelation in the sphere of art, of
the temper which made the victories of Marathon and Salamis possible,
of the true spirit of Greek chivalry as displayed in the Persian war,
and in the highly ideal conception of its events, expressed in
Herodotus and approving itself minutely to the minds of the Greeks,
as a series of affairs in which the gods and heroes of old time
personally intervened, and that not as mere shadows.  It was natural
that the high-pitched temper, the stress of thought and feeling,
which ended in the final conflict of Greek liberty with Asiatic
barbarism, should stimulate quite a new interest in the poetic
legends of the earlier conflict between them in the heroic age.  As
the events of the Crusades and the chivalrous spirit of that period,
leading men's minds back to ponder over the deeds of [261]
Charlemagne and his paladins, gave birth to the composition of the
Song of Roland, just so this Aeginetan sculpture displays the Greeks
of a later age feeding their enthusiasm on the legend of a distant
past, and is a link between Herodotus and Homer.  In those ideal
figures, pensive a little from the first, we may suppose, with the
shadowiness of a past age, we may yet see how Greeks of the time of
Themistocles really conceived of Homeric knight and squire.

Some other fragments of art, also discovered in Aegina, and supposed
to be contemporary with the temple of Athene, tend, by their
roughness and immaturity, to show that this small building, so united
in its effect, so complete in its simplicity, in the symmetry of its
two main groups of sculpture, was the perfect artistic flower of its
time and place.  Yet within the limits of this simple unity, so
important an element in the charm and impressiveness of the place, a
certain inequality of design and execution may be detected; the hand
of a slightly earlier master, probably, having worked in the western
gable, while the master of the eastern gable has gone some steps
farther than he in fineness and power of expression; the stooping
figure of the supposed Ajax,--belonging to the western group in the
present arrangement, but really borrowed, as I said, from the
eastern,--which has in it something above the type of the figures
grouped round it, being this later sculptor's work.  Yet Overbeck,
[262] who has elaborated the points of this distinction of styles,
commends without reserve the technical excellence of the whole work,
executed, as he says, "with an application of all known instruments
of sculpture; the delicate calculation of weight in the composition
of the several parts, allowing the artist to dispense with all
artificial supports, and to set his figures, with all their complex
motions, and yet with plinths only three inches thick, into the basis
of the gable; the bold use of the chisel, which wrought the shield,
on the freely-held arm, down to a thickness of scarcely three inches;
the fineness of the execution even in parts of the work invisible to
an ordinary spectator, in the diligent finishing of which the only
motive of the artist was to satisfy his own conviction as to the
nature of good sculpture."

It was the Dorian cities, Plato tells us, which first shook off the
false Asiatic shame, and stripped off their clothing for purposes of
exercise and training in the gymnasium; and it was part of the Dorian
or European influence to assert the value in art of the unveiled and
healthy human form.  And here the artists of Aegina, notwithstanding
Homer's description of Greek armour, glowing like the sun itself,
have displayed the Greek warriors--Greek and Trojan alike--not in the
equipments they would really have worn, but naked,--flesh fairer than
that golden armour, though more subdued and tranquil [263] in effect
on the spectator, the undraped form of man coming like an embodiment
of the Hellenic spirit, and as an element of temperance, into the
somewhat gaudy spectacle of Asiatic, or archaic art.  Paris alone
bears his dainty trappings, characteristically,--a coat of golden
scale-work, the scales set on a lining of canvas or leather, shifting
deftly over the delicate body beneath, and represented on the gable
by the gilding, or perhaps by real gilt metal.

It was characteristic also of that more truly Hellenic art--another
element of its temperance--to adopt the use of marble in its works;
and the material of these figures is the white marble of Paros.
Traces of colour have, however, been found on certain parts of them.
The outer surfaces of the shields and helmets have been blue; their
inner parts and the crests of the helmets, red; the hem of the
drapery of Athene, the edges of her sandals, the plinths on which the
figures stand, also red; one quiver red, another blue; the eyes and
lips, too, coloured; perhaps, the hair.  There was just a limited and
conventionalised use of colour, in effect, upon the marble.

And although the actual material of these figures is marble, its
coolness and massiveness suiting the growing severity of Greek
thought, yet they have their reminiscences of work in bronze, in a
certain slimness and tenuity, a certain dainty lightness of poise in
their grouping, which [264] remains in the memory as a peculiar note
of their style; the possibility of such easy and graceful balancing
being one of the privileges or opportunities of statuary in cast
metal, of that hollow casting in which the whole weight of the work
is so much less than that of a work of equal size in marble, and
which permits so much wider and freer a disposition of the parts
about its centre of gravity.  In Aegina the tradition of metal-work
seems to have been strong, and Onatas, whose name is closely
connected with Aegina, and who is contemporary with the presumably
later portion of this monument, was above all a worker in bronze.
Here again, in this lurking spirit of metal-work, we have a new
element of complexity in the character of these precious remains.
And then, to compass the whole work in our imagination, we must
conceive yet another element in the conjoint effect; metal being
actually mingled with the marble, brought thus to its daintiest point
of refinement, as the little holes indicate, bored into the marble
figures for the attachment of certain accessories in bronze,--lances,
swords, bows, the Medusa's head on the aegis of Athene, and its
fringe of little snakes.

And as there was no adequate consciousness and recognition of the
essentials of man's nature in the older, oriental art, so there is no
pathos, no humanity in the more special sense, but a kind of hardness
and cruelty rather, in those oft-repeated, long, matter-of-fact
processions, on the [265] marbles of Nineveh, of slave-like soldiers
on their way to battle mechanically, or of captives on their way to
slavery or death, for the satisfaction of the Great King.  These
Greek marbles, on the contrary, with that figure yearning forward so
graciously to the fallen leader, are deeply impressed with a natural
pathetic effect--the true reflexion again of the temper of Homer in
speaking of war.  Ares, the god of war himself, we must remember, is,
according to his original import, the god of storms, of winter raging
among the forests of the Thracian mountains, a brother of the north
wind.  It is only afterwards that, surviving many minor gods of war,
he becomes a leader of hosts, a sort of divine knight and patron of
knighthood; and, through the old intricate connexion of love and war,
and that amorousness which is the universally conceded privilege of
the soldier's life, he comes to be very near Aphrodite,--the paramour
of the goddess of physical beauty.  So that the idea of a sort of
soft dalliance mingles, in his character, so unlike that of the
Christian leader, Saint George, with the idea of savage, warlike
impulses; the fair, soft creature suddenly raging like a storm, to
which, in its various wild incidents, war is constantly likened in
Homer; the effects of delicate youth and of tempest blending, in
Ares, into one expression, not without that cruelty which mingles
also, like the influence of some malign fate upon him, with the finer
[266] characteristics of Achilles, who is a kind of merely human
double of Ares.  And in Homer's impressions of war the same elements
are blent,--the delicacy, the beauty of youth, especially, which
makes it so fit for purposes of love, spoiled and wasted by the
random flood and fire of a violent tempest; the glittering beauty of
the Greek "war-men," expressed in so many brilliant figures, and the
splendour of their equipments, in collision with the miserable
accidents of battle, and the grotesque indignities of death in it,
brought home to our fancy by a hundred pathetic incidents,--the sword
hot with slaughter, the stifling blood in the throat, the spoiling of
the body in every member severally.  He thinks of, and records, at
his early ending, the distant home from which the boy came, who goes
stumbling now, just stricken so wretchedly, his bowels in his hands.
He pushes the expression of this contrast to the macabre even,
suggesting the approach of those lower forms of life which await to-
morrow the fair bodies of the heroes, who strive and fall to-day like
these in the Aeginetan gables.  For it is just that two-fold
sentiment which this sculpture has embodied.  The seemingly stronger
hand which wrought the eastern gable has shown itself strongest in
the rigid expression of the truth of pain, in the mouth of the famous
recumbent figure on the extreme left, the lips just open at the
corner, and in the hard-shut lips of Hercules.  Otherwise, [267]
these figures all smile faintly, almost like the monumental effigies
of the Middle Age, with a smile which, even if it be but a result of
the mere conventionality of an art still somewhat immature, has just
the pathetic effect of Homer's conventional epithet "tender," when he
speaks of the flesh of his heroes.

And together with this touching power there is also in this work the
effect of an early simplicity, the charm of its limitations.  For as
art which has passed its prime has sometimes the charm of an absolute
refinement in taste and workmanship, so immature art also, as we now
see, has its own attractiveness in the naïveté, the freshness of
spirit, which finds power and interest in simple motives of feeling,
and in the freshness of hand, which has a sense of enjoyment in
mechanical processes still performed unmechanically, in the spending
of care and intelligence on every touch.  As regards Italian art, the
sculpture and paintings of the earlier Renaissance, the aesthetic
value of this naïveté is now well understood; but it has its value in
Greek sculpture also.  There, too, is a succession of phases through
which the artistic power and purpose grew to maturity, with the
enduring charm of an unconventional, unsophisticated freshness, in
that very early stage of it illustrated by these marbles of Aegina,
not less than in the work of Verrocchio and Mino of Fiesole.  Effects
of this we may note in that sculpture [268] of Aegina, not merely in
the simplicity, or monotony even, of the whole composition, and in
the exact and formal correspondence of one gable to the other, but in
the simple readiness with which the designer makes the two second
spearmen kneel, against the probability of the thing, so as just to
fill the space he has to compose in.  The profiles are still not yet
of the fully developed Greek type, but have a somewhat sharp
prominence of nose and chin, as in Etrurian design, in the early
sculpture of Cyprus, and in the earlier Greek vases; and the general
proportions of the body in relation to the shoulders are still
somewhat archaically slim.  But then the workman is at work in dry
earnestness, with a sort of hard strength in detail, a scrupulousness
verging on stiffness, like that of an early Flemish painter; he
communicates to us his still youthful sense of pleasure in the
experience of the first rudimentary difficulties of his art overcome.
And withal, these figures have in them a true expression of life, of
animation.  In this monument of Greek chivalry, pensive and visionary
as it may seem, those old Greek knights live with a truth like that
of Homer or Chaucer.  In a sort of stiff grace, combined with a sense
of things bright or sorrowful directly felt, the Aeginetan workman is
as it were the Chaucer of Greek sculpture.



THE AGE OF ATHLETIC PRIZEMEN:
A CHAPTER IN GREEK ART

[269] IT is pleasant when, looking at medieval sculpture, we are
reminded of that of Greece; pleasant likewise, conversely, in the
study of Greek work to be put on thoughts of the Middle Age.  To the
refined intelligence, it would seem, there is something attractive in
complex expression as such.  The Marbles of Aegina, then, may remind
us of the Middle Age where it passes into the early Renaissance, of
its most tenderly finished warrior-tombs at Westminster or in
Florence.  A less mature phase of medieval art is recalled to our
fancy by a primitive Greek work in the Museum of Athens, Hermes,
bearing a ram, a little one, upon his shoulders.  He bears it thus,
had borne it round the walls of Tanagra, as its citizens told, by way
of purifying that place from the plague, and brings to mind, of
course, later images of the "Good Shepherd."  It is not the subject
of the work, however, but its style, that sets us down in thought
before some gothic [270] cathedral front.  Suppose the Hermes
Kriophorus lifted into one of those empty niches, and the
archaeologist will inform you rightly, as at Auxerre or Wells, of
Italian influence, perhaps of Italian workmen, and along with them
indirect old Greek influence coming northwards; while the connoisseur
assures us that all good art, at its respective stages of
development, is in essential qualities everywhere alike.  It is
observed, as a note of imperfect skill, that in that carved block of
stone the animal is insufficiently detached from the shoulders of its
bearer.  Again, how precisely gothic is the effect!  Its very
limitation as sculpture emphasises the function of the thing as an
architectural ornament.  And the student of the Middle Age, if it
came within his range, would be right in so esteeming it.  Hieratic,
stiff and formal, if you will, there is a knowledge of the human body
in it nevertheless, of the body, and of the purely animal soul
therein, full of the promise of what is coming in that chapter of
Greek art which may properly be entitled, "The Age of Athletic
Prizemen."

That rude image, a work perhaps of Calamis of shadowy fame, belongs
to a phase of art still in grave-clothes or swaddling-bands, still
strictly subordinate to religious or other purposes not immediately
its own.  It had scarcely to wait for the next generation to be
superseded, and we need not wonder that but little of it remains.
But that it was a widely active phase of art, with [271] all the
vigour of local varieties, is attested by another famous archaic
monument, too full of a kind of sacred poetry to be passed by.  The
reader does not need to be reminded that the Greeks, vivid as was
their consciousness of this life, cared much always for the graves of
the dead; that to be cared for, to be honoured, in one's grave, to
have tymbos amphipolos,+ a frequented tomb, as Pindar says, was a
considerable motive with them, even among the young.  In the study of
its funeral monuments we might indeed follow closely enough the
general development of art in Greece from beginning to end.  The
carved slab of the ancient shepherd of Orchomenus, with his dog and
rustic staff, the stélé of the ancient man-at-arms signed
"Aristocles," rich originally with colour and gold and fittings of
bronze, are among the few still visible pictures, or portraits, it
may be, of the earliest Greek life.  Compare them, compare their
expression, for a moment, with the deeply incised tombstones of the
Brethren of St. Francis and their clients, which still roughen the
pavement of Santa Croce at Florence, and recall the varnished
polychrome decoration of those Greek monuments in connexion with the
worn-out blazonry of the funeral brasses of England and Flanders.
The Shepherd, the Hoplite, begin a series continuous to the era of
full Attic mastery in its gentlest mood, with a large and varied
store of memorials of the dead, which, not so strangely as it may
[272] seem at first sight, are like selected pages from daily
domestic life.  See, for instance, at the British Museum, Trypho,--
"the son of Eutychus," one of the very pleasantest human likenesses
there, though it came from a cemetery--a son it was hard to leave in
it at nineteen or twenty.  With all the suppleness, the delicate
muscularity, of the flower of his youth, his handsome face sweetened
by a kind and simple heart, in motion, surely, he steps forth from
some shadowy chamber, strigil in hand, as of old, and with his coarse
towel or cloak of monumental drapery over one shoulder.  But whither
precisely, you may ask, and as what, is he moving there in the
doorway?  Well! in effect, certainly, it is the memory of the dead
lad, emerging thus from his tomb,--the still active soul, or
permanent thought, of him, as he most liked to be.

The Harpy Tomb, so called from its mysterious winged creatures with
human faces, carrying the little shrouded souls of the dead, is a
work many generations earlier than that graceful monument of Trypho.
It was from an ancient cemetery at Xanthus in Lycia that it came to
the British Museum.  The Lycians were not a Greek people; but, as
happened even with "barbarians" dwelling on the coast of Asia Minor,
they became lovers of the Hellenic culture, and Xanthus, their
capital, as may be judged from the beauty of its ruins, managed to
have a considerable portion in Greek art, though infusing it [273]
with a certain Asiatic colour.  The frugally designed frieze of the
Harpy Tomb, in the lowest possible relief, might fairly be placed
between the monuments of Assyria and those primitive Greek works
among which it now actually stands.  The stiffly ranged figures in
any other than strictly archaic work would seem affected.  But what
an undercurrent of refined sentiment, presumably not Asiatic, not
"barbaric," lifting those who felt thus about death so early into the
main stream of Greek humanity, and to a level of visible refinement
in execution duly expressive of it!

In that old burial-place of Xanthus, then, a now nameless family, or
a single bereaved member of it, represented there as a diminutive
figure crouching on the earth in sorrow, erected this monument, so
full of family sentiment, and of so much value as illustrating what
is for us a somewhat empty period in the history of Greek art,
strictly so called.  Like the less conspicuously adorned tombs around
it, like the tombs in Homer, it had the form of a tower--a square
tower about twenty-four feet high, hollowed at the top into a small
chamber, for the reception, through a little doorway, of the urned
ashes of the dead.  Four sculptured slabs were placed at this level
on the four sides of the tower in the manner of a frieze.  I said
that the winged creatures with human faces carry the little souls of
the dead.  The interpretation of these mystic [274] imageries is, in
truth, debated.  But in face of them, and remembering how the
sculptors and glass-painters of the Middle Age constantly represented
the souls of the dead as tiny bodies, one can hardly doubt as to the
meaning of these particular details which, repeated on every side,
seem to give the key-note of the whole composition.*  Those infernal,
or celestial, birds, indeed, are not true to what is understood to be
the harpy form.  Call them sirens, rather.  People, and not only old
people, as you know, appear sometimes to have been quite charmed away
by what dismays most of us.  The tiny shrouded figures which the
sirens carry are carried very tenderly, and seem to yearn in their
turn towards those kindly nurses as they pass on their way to a new
world.  Their small stature, as I said, does not prove them infants,
but only new-born into that other life, and contrasts their
helplessness with the powers, the great presences, now around them.
A cow, far enough from Myron's famous illusive animal, suckles her
calf.  She is [275] one of almost any number of artistic symbols of
new-birth, of the renewal of life, drawn from a world which is, after
all, so full of it.  On one side sits enthroned, as some have
thought, the Goddess of Death; on the opposite side the Goddess of
Life, with her flowers and fruit.  Towards her three young maidens
are advancing--were they still alive thus, graceful, virginal, with
their long, plaited hair, and long, delicately-folded tunics, looking
forward to carry on their race into the future?  Presented severally,
on the other sides of the dark hollow within, three male persons--a
young man, an old man, and a boy--seem to be bringing home, somewhat
wearily, to their "long home," the young man, his armour, the boy,
and the old man, like old Socrates, the mortuary cock, as they
approach some shadowy, ancient deity of the tomb, or it may be the
throned impersonation of their "fathers of old."  The marble surface
was coloured, at least in part, with fixtures of metal here and
there.  The designer, whoever he may have been, was possessed
certainly of some tranquillising second thoughts concerning death,
which may well have had their value for mourners; and he has
expressed those thoughts, if lispingly, yet with no faults of
commission, with a befitting grace, and, in truth, at some points,
with something already of a really Hellenic definition and vigour.
He really speaks to us in his work, through his symbolic and [276]
imitative figures,--speaks to our intelligence persuasively.  The
surviving thought of the lad Trypho, returning from his tomb to the
living, was of athletic character; how he was and looked when in the
flower of his strength.  And it is not of the dead but of the living,
who look and are as he, that the artistic genius of this period is
full.  It is a period, truly, not of battles, such as those
commemorated in the Marbles of Aegina, but of more peaceful contests-
-at Olympia, at the Isthmus, at Delphi--the glories of which Pindar
sang in language suggestive of a sort of metallic beauty, firmly cut
and embossed, like crowns of wild olive, of parsley and bay, in crisp
gold.  First, however, it had been necessary that Greece should win
its liberty, political standing-ground, and a really social air to
breathe in, with development of the youthful limbs.  Of this process
Athens was the chief scene; and the earliest notable presentment of
humanity by Athenian art was in celebration of those who had
vindicated liberty with their lives--two youths again, in a real
incident, which had, however, the quality of a poetic invention,
turning, as it did, on that ideal or romantic friendship which was
characteristic of the Greeks.

With something, perhaps, of hieratic convention, yet presented as
they really were, as friends and admirers loved to think of them,
[277] Harmodius and Aristogeiton stood, then, soon after their heroic
death, side by side in bronze, the work of Antenor, in a way not to
be forgotten, when, thirty years afterwards, a foreign tyrant,
Xerxes, carried them away to Persia.  Kritios and Nesistes were,
therefore, employed for a reproduction of them, which would naturally
be somewhat more advanced in style.  In its turn this also
disappeared.  The more curious student, however, would still fancy he
saw the trace of it--of that copy, or of the original, afterwards
restored to Athens--here or there, on vase or coin.  But in fact the
very images of the heroic youths were become but ghosts, haunting the
story of Greek art, till they found or seemed to find a body once
more when, not many years since, an acute observer detected, as he
thought, in a remarkable pair of statues in the Museum of Naples, if
freed from incorrect restorations and rightly set together, a
veritable descendant from the original work of Antenor.  With all
their truth to physical form and movement, with a conscious mastery
of delineation, they were, nevertheless, in certain details, in the
hair, for instance, archaic, or rather archaistic--designedly
archaic, as from the hand of a workman, for whom, in this subject,
archaism, the very touch of the ancient master, had a sentimental or
even a religious value.  And unmistakeably they were young assassins,
moving, with more than fraternal unity, the younger in advance of and
covering [278] the elder, according to the account given by
Herodotus, straight to their purpose;--against two wicked brothers,
as you remember, two good friends, on behalf of the dishonoured
sister of one of them.

Archaeologists have loved to adjust them tentatively, with various
hypotheses as to the precise manner in which they thus went together.
Meantime they have figured plausibly as representative of Attic
sculpture at the end of its first period, still immature indeed, but
with a just claim to take breath, so to speak, having now
accomplished some stades of the journey.  Those young heroes of
Athenian democracy, then, indicate already what place Athens and
Attica will occupy in the supreme age of art soon to come; indicate
also the subject from which that age will draw the main stream of its
inspiration--living youth, "iconic" in its exact portraiture, or
"heroic" as idealised in various degrees under the influence of great
thoughts about it--youth in its self-denying contention towards great
effects; great intrinsically, as at Marathon, or when Harmodius and
Aristogeiton fell, or magnified by the force and splendour of Greek
imagination with the stimulus of the national games.  For the most
part, indeed, it is not with youth taxed spasmodically, like that of
Harmodius and Aristogeiton, and the "necessity" that was upon it,
that the Athenian mind and heart are now busied; but with youth [279]
in its voluntary labours, its habitual and measured discipline,
labour for its own sake, or in wholly friendly contest for prizes
which in reality borrow all their value from the quality of the
receiver.

We are with Pindar, you see, in this athletic age of Greek sculpture.
It is the period no longer of battle against a foreign foe, recalling
the Homeric ideal, nor against the tyrant at home, fixing a dubious
ideal for the future, but of peaceful combat as a fine art--pulvis
Olympicus.  Anticipating the arts, poetry, a generation before Myron
and Polycleitus, had drawn already from the youthful combatants in
the great national games the motives of those Odes, the bracing words
of which, as I said, are like work in fine bronze, or, as Pindar
himself suggests, in ivory and gold.  Sung in the victor's supper-
room, or at the door of his abode, or with the lyre and the pipe as
they took him home in procession through the streets, or commemorated
the happy day, or in a temple where he laid up his crown, Pindar's
songs bear witness to the pride of family or township in the physical
perfection of son or citizen, and his consequent success in the long
or the short foot-race, or the foot-race in armour, or the
pentathlon, or any part of it.  "Now on one, now on another," as the
poet tells, "doth the grace that quickeneth (quickeneth, literally,
on the race-course) look favourably."  Ariston hydôr+ he declares
indeed, and the actual prize, as we know, was in itself of little or
no worth--a [280] cloak, in the Athenian games, but at the greater
games a mere handful of parsley, a few sprigs of pine or wild olive.
The prize has, so to say, only an intellectual or moral value.  Yet
actually Pindar's own verse is all of gold and wine and flowers, is
itself avowedly a flower, or "liquid nectar," or "the sweet fruit of
his soul to men that are winners in the games."  "As when from a
wealthy hand one lifting a cup, made glad within with the dew of the
vine, maketh gift thereof to a youth":--the keynote of Pindar's verse
is there!  This brilliant living youth of his day, of the actual
time, for whom, as he says, he "awakes the clear-toned gale of song"-
-epeôn hoimon ligyn+--that song mingles sometimes with the splendours
of a recorded ancient lineage, or with the legendary greatness of a
remoter past, its gods and heroes, patrons or ancestors, it might be,
of the famous young man of the hour, or with the glory and solemnity
of the immortals themselves taking a share in mortal contests.  On
such pretext he will tell a new story, or bring to its last
perfection by his manner of telling it, his pregnancy and studied
beauty of expression, an old one.  The tale of Castor and Polydeukes,
the appropriate patrons of virginal yet virile youth, starred and
mounted, he tells in all its human interest.

"Ample is the glory stored up for Olympian winners."  And what
Pindar's contemporaries asked of him for the due appreciation, the
[281] consciousness, of it, by way of song, that the next generation
sought, by way of sculptural memorial in marble, and above all, as it
seems, in bronze.  The keen demand for athletic statuary, the honour
attached to the artist employed to make his statue at Olympia, or at
home, bear witness again to the pride with which a Greek town, the
pathos, it might be, with which a family, looked back to the victory
of one of its members.  In the courts of Olympia a whole population
in marble and bronze gathered quickly,--a world of portraits, out of
which, as the purged and perfected essence, the ideal soul, of them,
emerged the Diadumenus, for instance, the Discobolus, the so-called
Jason of the Louvre.  Olympia was in truth, as Pindar says again, a
mother of gold-crowned contests, the mother of a large offspring.
All over Greece the enthusiasm for gymnastic, for the life of the
gymnasia, prevailed.  It was a gymnastic which, under the happy
conditions of that time, was already surely what Plato pleads for,
already one half music, mousikê,+ a matter, partly, of character and
of the soul, of the fair proportion between soul and body, of the
soul with itself.  Who can doubt it who sees and considers the still
irresistible grace, the contagious pleasantness, of the Discobolus,
the Diadumenus, and a few other precious survivals from the athletic
age which immediately preceded the manhood of Pheidias, between the
Persian and the Peloponnesian wars?

[282] Now, this predominance of youth, of the youthful form, in art,
of bodily gymnastic promoting natural advantages to the utmost, of
the physical perfection developed thereby, is a sign that essential
mastery has been achieved by the artist--the power, that is to say,
of a full and free realisation.  For such youth, in its very essence,
is a matter properly within the limits of the visible, the empirical,
world; and in the presentment of it there will be no place for
symbolic hint, none of that reliance on the helpful imagination of
the spectator, the legitimate scope of which is a large one, when art
is dealing with religious objects, with what in the fulness of its
own nature is not really expressible at all.  In any passable
representation of the Greek discobolus, as in any passable
representation of an English cricketer, there can be no successful
evasion of the natural difficulties of the thing to be done--the
difficulties of competing with nature itself, or its maker, in that
marvellous combination of motion and rest, of inward mechanism with
the so smoothly finished surface and outline--finished ad unguem--
which enfold it.

Of the gradual development of such mastery of natural detail, a
veritable counterfeit of nature, the veritable rhythmus of the
runner, for example--twinkling heel and ivory shoulder--we have hints
and traces in the historians of art.  One had attained the very turn
and texture of the [283] crisp locks, another the very feel of the
tense nerve and full-flushed vein, while with another you saw the
bosom of Ladas expand, the lips part, as if for a last breath ere he
reached the goal.  It was like a child finding little by little the
use of its limbs, the testimony of its senses, at a definite moment.
With all its poetic impulse, it is an age clearly of faithful
observation, of what we call realism, alike in its iconic and heroic
work; alike in portraiture, that is to say, and in the presentment of
divine or abstract types.  Its workmen are close students now of the
living form as such; aim with success at an ever larger and more
various expression of its details; or replace a conventional
statement of them by a real and lively one.  That it was thus is
attested indirectly by the fact that they busied themselves,
seemingly by way of a tour de force, and with no essential interest
in such subject, alien as it was from the pride of health which is
characteristic of the gymnastic life, with the expression of physical
pain, in Philoctetes, for instance.  The adroit, the swift, the
strong, in full and free exercise of their gifts, to the delight of
others and of themselves, though their sculptural record has for the
most part perished, are specified in ancient literary notices as the
sculptor's favourite subjects, repeated, remodelled, over and over
again, for the adornment of the actual scene of athletic success, or
the market-place at home of the distant Northern or Sicilian town
[284] whence the prizeman had come.--A countless series of popular
illustrations to Pindar's Odes!  And if art was still to minister to
the religious sense, it could only be by clothing celestial spirits
also as nearly as possible in the bodily semblance of the various
athletic combatants, whose patrons respectively they were supposed to
be.

The age to which we are come in the story of Greek art presents to us
indeed only a chapter of scattered fragments, of names that are
little more, with but surmise of their original significance, and
mere reasonings as to the sort of art that may have occupied what are
really empty spaces.  Two names, however, connect themselves
gloriously with certain extant works of art; copies, it is true, at
various removes, yet copies of what is still found delightful through
them, and by copyists who for the most part were themselves masters.
Through the variations of the copyist, the restorer, the mere
imitator, these works are reducible to two famous original types--the
Discobolus or quoit-player, of Myron, the beau idéal (we may use that
term for once justly) of athletic motion; and the Diadumenus of
Polycleitus, as, binding the fillet or crown of victory upon his
head, he presents the beau idéal of athletic repose, and almost
begins to think.

Myron was a native of Eleutherae, and a pupil of Ageladas of Argos.
There is nothing more to tell by way of positive detail of this so
famous [285] artist, save that the main scene of his activity was
Athens, now become the centre of the artistic as of all other modes
of life in Greece.  Multiplicasse veritatem videtur, says Pliny.  He
was in fact an earnest realist or naturalist, and rose to central
perfection in the portraiture, the idealised portraiture, of athletic
youth, from a mastery first of all in the delineation of inferior
objects, of little lifeless or living things.  Think, however, for a
moment, how winning such objects are still, as presented on Greek
coins;--the ear of corn, for instance, on those of Metapontum; the
microscopic cockle-shell, the dolphins, on the coins of Syracuse.
Myron, then, passes from pleasant truth of that kind to the
delineation of the worthier sorts of animal life,--the ox, the dog--
to nothing short of illusion in the treatment of them, as ancient
connoisseurs would have you understand.  It is said that there are
thirty-six extant epigrams on his brazen cow.  That animal has her
gentle place in Greek art, from the Siren tomb, suckling her young
there, as the type of eternal rejuvenescence, onwards to the
procession of the Elgin frieze, where, still breathing deliciously of
the distant pastures, she is led to the altar.  We feel sorry for
her, as we look, so lifelike is the carved marble.  The sculptor who
worked there, whoever he may have been, had profited doubtless by the
study of Myron's famous work.  For what purpose he made it, does not
appear;--as [286] an architectural ornament; or a votive offering;
perhaps only because he liked making it.  In hyperbolic epigram, at
any rate, the animal breathes, explaining sufficiently the point of
Pliny's phrase regarding Myron--Corporum curiosus.  And when he came
to his main business with the quoit-player, the wrestler, the runner,
he did not for a moment forget that they too were animals, young
animals, delighting in natural motion, in free course through the
yielding air, over uninterrupted space, according to Aristotle's
definition of pleasure: "the unhindered exercise of one's natural
force."  Corporum tenus curiosus:--he was a "curious workman" as far
as the living body is concerned.  Pliny goes on to qualify that
phrase by saying that he did not express the sensations of the mind--
animi sensus.  But just there, in fact, precisely in such limitation,
we find what authenticates Myron's peculiar value in the evolution of
Greek art.  It is of the essence of the athletic prizeman, involved
in the very ideal of the quoit-player, the cricketer, not to give
expression to mind, in any antagonism to, or invasion of, the body;
to mind as anything more than a function of the body, whose healthful
balance of functions it may so easily perturb;--to disavow that
insidious enemy of the fairness of the bodily soul as such.

Yet if the art of Myron was but little occupied with the reasonable
soul (animus), with those mental situations the expression of which,
though [287] it may have a pathos and a beauty of its own, is for the
most part adverse to the proper expression of youth, to the beauty of
youth, by causing it to be no longer youthful, he was certainly a
master of the animal or physical soul there (anima); how it is, how
it displays itself, as illustrated, for instance, in the Discobolus.
Of voluntary animal motion the very soul is undoubtedly there.  We
have but translations into marble of the original in bronze.  In
that, it was as if a blast of cool wind had congealed the metal, or
the living youth, fixed him imperishably in that moment of rest which
lies between two opposed motions, the backward swing of the right
arm, the movement forwards on which the left foot is in the very act
of starting.  The matter of the thing, the stately bronze or marble,
thus rests indeed; but the artistic form of it, in truth, scarcely
more, even to the eye, than the rolling ball or disk, may be said to
rest, at every moment of its course,--just metaphysically, you know.

This mystery of combined motion and rest, of rest in motion, had
involved, of course, on the part of the sculptor who had mastered its
secret, long and intricate consideration.  Archaic as it is,
primitive still in some respects, full of the primitive youth it
celebrates, it is, in fact, a learned work, and suggested to a great
analyst of literary style, singular as it may seem, the "elaborate"
or "contorted" manner in literature [288] of the later Latin
writers, which, however, he finds "laudable" for its purpose.  Yet
with all its learned involution, thus so oddly characterised by
Quintilian, so entirely is this quality subordinated to the proper
purpose of the Discobolus as a work of art, a thing to be looked at
rather than to think about, that it makes one exclaim still, with the
poet of athletes,--The natural is ever best!"--to de phya hapan
kratiston.+  Perhaps that triumphant, unimpeachable naturalness is
after all the reason why, on seeing it for the first time, it
suggests no new view of the beauty of human form, or point of view
for the regarding of it; is acceptable rather as embodying (say, in
one perfect flower) all one has ever fancied or seen, in old Greece
or on Thames' side, of the unspoiled body of youth, thus delighting
itself and others, at that perfect, because unconscious, point of
good-fortune, as it moves or rests just there for a moment, between
the animal and spiritual worlds.  "Grant them," you pray in Pindar's
own words, grant them with feet so light to pass through life!"

The face of the young man, as you see him in the British Museum for
instance, with fittingly inexpressive expression, (look into, look at
the curves of, the blossom-like cavity of the opened mouth) is
beautiful, but not altogether virile.  The eyes, the facial lines
which they gather into one, seem ready to follow the coming motion of
the discus as those of an onlooker might be; [289] but that head does
not really belong to the discobolus.  To be assured of this you have
but to compare with that version in the British Museum the most
authentic of all derivations from the original, preserved till lately
at the Palazzo Massimi in Rome.  Here, the vigorous head also, with
the face, smooth enough, but spare, and tightly drawn over muscle and
bone, is sympathetic with, yields itself to, the concentration, in
the most literal sense, of all beside;--is itself, in very truth, the
steady centre of the discus, which begins to spin; as the source of
will, the source of the motion with which the discus is already on
the wing,--that, and the entire form.  The Discobolus of the Massimi
Palace presents, moreover, in the hair, for instance, those survivals
of primitive manner which would mark legitimately Myron's actual pre-
Pheidiac standpoint; as they are congruous also with a certain
archaic, a more than merely athletic, spareness of form generally--
delightful touches of unreality in this realist of a great time, and
of a sort of conventionalism that has an attraction in itself.

Was it a portrait?  That one can so much as ask the question is a
proof how far the master, in spite of his lingering archaism, is come
already from the antique marbles of Aegina.  Was it the portrait of
one much-admired youth, or rather the type, the rectified essence, of
many such, at the most pregnant, the essential, moment, of the [290]
exercise of their natural powers, of what they really were?  Have we
here, in short, the sculptor Myron's reasoned memory of many a quoit-
player, of a long flight of quoit-players; as, were he here, he might
have given us the cricketer, the passing generation of cricketers,
sub specie eternitatis, under the eternal form of art?

Was it in that case a commemorative or votive statue, such as
Pausanias found scattered throughout Greece?  Was it, again, designed
to be part only of some larger decorative scheme, as some have
supposed of the Venus of Melos, or a work of genre as we say, a thing
intended merely to interest, to gratify the taste, with no further
purpose?  In either case it may have represented some legendary
quoit-player--Perseus at play with Acrisius fatally, as one has
suggested; or Apollo with Hyacinthus, as Ovid describes him in a work
of poetic genre.

And if the Discobolus is, after all, a work of genre--a work merely
imitative of the detail of actual life--for the adornment of a room
in a private house, it would be only one of many such produced in
Myron's day.  It would be, in fact, one of the pristae directly
attributed to him by Pliny, little congruous as they may seem with
the grandiose motions of his more characteristic work.  The pristae,
the sawyers,--a celebrated creation of the kind,--is supposed to have
given its name to the whole class of like things.  No [291] age,
indeed, since the rudiments of art were mastered, can have been
without such reproductions of the pedestrian incidents of every day,
for the mere pleasant exercise at once of the curiosity of the
spectator and the imitative instinct of the producer.  The Terra-
Cotta Rooms of the Louvre and the British Museum are a proof of it.
One such work indeed there is, delightful in itself, technically
exquisite, most interesting by its history, which properly finds its
place beside the larger, the full-grown, physical perfection of the
Discobolus, one of whose alert younger brethren he may be,--the
Spinario namely, the boy drawing a thorn from his foot, preserved in
the so rare, veritable antique bronze at Rome, in the Museum of the
Capitol, and well known in a host of ancient and modern
reproductions.

There, or elsewhere in Rome, tolerated in the general destruction of
ancient sculpture--like the "Wolf of the Capitol," allowed by way of
heraldic sign, as in modern Siena, or like the equestrian figure of
Marcus Aurelius doing duty as Charlemagne,--like those, but like very
few other works of the kind, the Spinario remained, well-known and in
honour, throughout the Middle Age.  Stories like that of Ladas the
famous runner, who died as he reached the goal in a glorious foot-
race of boys, the subject of a famous work by Myron himself, (the
"last breath," as you saw, was on the boy's lips) were told of the
half-grown bronze lad at the Capitol. [292]  Of necessity, but
fatally, he must pause for a few moments in his course; or the course
is at length over, or the breathless journey with some all-important
tidings; and now, not till now, he thinks of resting to draw from the
sole of his foot the cruel thorn, driven into it as he ran.  In any
case, there he still sits for a moment, for ever, amid the smiling
admiration of centuries, in the agility, in the perfect naïveté also
as thus occupied, of his sixteenth year, to which the somewhat
lengthy or attenuated structure of the limbs is conformable.  And
then, in this attenuation, in the almost Egyptian proportions, in the
shallowness of the chest and shoulders especially, in the Phoenician
or old Greek sharpness and length of profile, and the long,
conventional, wire-drawn hair of the boy, arching formally over the
forehead and round the neck, there is something of archaism, of that
archaism which survives, truly, in Myron's own work, blending with
the grace and power of well-nigh the maturity of Greek art.  The
blending of interests, of artistic alliances, is certainly
delightful.

Polycleitus, the other famous name of this period, and with a fame
justified by work we may still study, at least in its immediate
derivatives, had also tried his hand with success in such subjects.
In the Astragalizontes, for instance, well known to antiquity in
countless reproductions, he had treated an incident of the every-day
life of every age, which Plato sketches by the way.

[293] Myron, by patience of genius, had mastered the secret of the
expression of movement, had plucked out the very heart of its
mystery.  Polycleitus, on the other hand, is above all the master of
rest, of the expression of rest after toil, in the victorious and
crowned athlete, Diadumenus.  In many slightly varying forms, marble
versions of the original in bronze of Delos, the Diadumenus,
indifferently, mechanically, is binding round his head a ribbon or
fillet.  In the Vaison copy at the British Museum it was of silver.
That simple fillet is, in fact, a diadem, a crown, and he assumes it
as a victor; but, as I said, mechanically, and, prize in hand, might
be asking himself whether after all it had been worth while.  For the
active beauty of the Agonistes of which Myron's art is full, we have
here, then, the passive beauty of the victor.  But the later
incident, the realisation of rest, is actually in affinity with a
certain earliness, so to call it, in the temper and work of
Polycleitus.  He is already something of a reactionary; or pauses,
rather, to enjoy, to convey enjoyably to others, the full savour of a
particular moment in the development of his craft, the moment of the
perfecting of restful form, before the mere consciousness of
technical mastery in delineation urges forward the art of sculpture
to a bewildering infinitude of motion.  In opposition to the ease,
the freedom, of others, his aim is, by a voluntary restraint in the
exercise of such technical mastery, [294] to achieve nothing less
than the impeccable, within certain narrow limits.  He still
hesitates, is self-exacting, seems even to have checked a growing
readiness of hand in the artists about him.  He was renowned as a
graver, found much to do with the chisel, introducing many a fine
after-thought, when the rough-casting of his work was over.  He
studied human form under such conditions as would bring out its
natural features, its static laws, in their entirety, their harmony;
and in an academic work, so to speak, no longer to be clearly
identified in what may be derivations from it, he claimed to have
fixed the canon, the common measure, of perfect man.  Yet with
Polycleitus certainly the measure of man was not yet "the measure of
an angel," but still only that of mortal youth; of youth, however, in
that scrupulous and uncontaminate purity of form which recommended
itself even to the Greeks as befitting messengers from the gods, if
such messengers should come.

And yet a large part of Myron's contemporary fame depended on his
religious work--on his statue of Here, for instance, in ivory and
gold--that too, doubtless, expressive, as appropriately to its
subject as to himself, of a passive beauty.  We see it still,
perhaps, in the coins of Argos.  And has not the crowned victor, too,
in that mechanic action, in his demure attitude, something which
reminds us of the religious significance of the Greek athletic
service?  It was a [295] sort of worship, you know--that department
of public life; such worship as Greece, still in its superficial
youth, found itself best capable of.  At least those solemn contests
began and ended with prayer and sacrifice.  Their most honoured
prizes were a kind of religiously symbolical objects.  The athletic
life certainly breathes of abstinence, of rule and the keeping under
of one's self.  And here in the Diadumenus we have one of its
priests, a priest of the religion whose central motive was what has
been called "the worship of the body,"--its modest priest.

The so-called Jason at the Louvre, the, Apoxyomenus, and a certain
number of others you will meet with from time to time--whatever be
the age and derivation of the actual marble which reproduced for
Rome, for Africa, or Gaul, types that can have had their first origin
in one only time and place--belong, at least aesthetically, to this
group, together with the Adorante of Berlin, Winckelmann's antique
favourite, who with uplifted face and hands seems to be indeed in
prayer, looks immaculate enough to be interceding for others.  As to
the Jason of the Louvre, one asks at first sight of him, as he stoops
to make fast the sandal on his foot, whether the young man can be
already so marked a personage.  Is he already the approved hero, bent
on some great act of his famous epopée; or mere youth only, again,
arraying itself mechanically, but alert in eye and soul, prompt to be
roused to any [296] great action whatever?  The vaguely opened lips
certainly suggest the latter view; if indeed the body and the head
(in a different sort of marble) really belong to one another.  Ah!
the more closely you consider the fragments of antiquity, those stray
letters of the old Greek aesthetic alphabet, the less positive will
your conclusions become, because less conclusive the data regarding
artistic origin and purpose.  Set here also, however, to the end that
in a congruous atmosphere, in a real perspective, they may assume
their full moral and aesthetic expression, whatever of like spirit
you may come upon in Greek or any other work, remembering that in
England also, in Oxford, we have still, for any master of such art
that may be given us, subjects truly "made to his hand."

As with these, so with their prototypes at Olympia, or at the
Isthmus, above all perhaps in the Diadumenus of Polycleitus, a
certain melancholy (a pagan melancholy, it may be rightly called,
even when we detect it in our English youth) is blent with the final
impression we retain of them.  They are at play indeed, in the sun;
but a little cloud passes over it now and then; and just because of
them, because they are there, the whole aspect of the place is
chilled suddenly, beyond what one could have thought possible, into
what seems, nevertheless, to be the proper and permanent light of
day.  For though they pass on from age to age the [297]  type of what
is pleasantest to look on, which, as type, is indeed eternal, it is,
of course, but for an hour that it rests with any one of them
individually.  Assuredly they have no maladies of soul any more than
of the body--Animi sensus non expressit.  But if they are not yet
thinking, there is the capacity of thought, of painful thought, in
them, as they seem to be aware wistfully.  In the Diadumenus of
Polycleitus this expression allies itself to the long-drawn facial
type of his preference, to be found also in another very different
subject, the ideal of which he fixed in Greek sculpture--the would-be
virile Amazon, in exquisite pain, alike of body and soul--the
"Wounded Amazon."  We may be reminded that in the first mention of
athletic contests in Greek literature--in the twenty-third book of
the Iliad--they form part of the funeral rites of the hero Patroclus.
It is thus, though but in the faintest degree, even with the
veritable prince of that world of antique bronze and marble, the
Discobolus at Rest of the Vatican, which might well be set where
Winckelmann set the Adorante, representing as it probably does, the
original of Alcamenes, in whom, a generation after Pheidias, an
earlier and more earnest spirit still survived.  Although the crisply
trimmed head may seem a little too small to our, perhaps not quite
rightful, eyes, we might accept him for that canon, or measure, of
the perfect human form, which [298] Polycleitus had proposed.  He is
neither the victor at rest, as with Polycleitus, nor the combatant
already in motion, as with Myron; but, as if stepping backward from
Myron's precise point ofinterest, and with the heavydiscusstill in
the left hand, he is preparing for his venture, taking stand
carefully on the right foot.  Eye and mind concentre, loyally,
entirely, upon the business in hand.  The very finger is reckoning
while he watches, intent upon the cast of another, as the metal
glides to the goal.  Take him, to lead you forth quite out of the
narrow limits of the Greek world.  You have pure humanity there, with
a glowing, yet restrained joy and delight in itself, but without
vanity; and it is pure.  There is nothing certainly supersensual in
that fair, round head, any more than in the long, agile limbs; but
also no impediment, natural or acquired.  To have achieved just that,
was the Greek's truest claim for furtherance in the main line of
human development.  He had been faithful, we cannot help saying, as
we pass from that youthful company, in what comparatively is perhaps
little--in the culture, the administration, of the visible world; and
he merited, so we might go on to say--he merited Revelation,
something which should solace his heart in the inevitable fading of
that.  We are reminded of those strange prophetic words of the
Wisdom, the Logos, by whom God made the world, in one of [299] the
sapiential, half-Platonic books of the Hebrew Scriptures:--"I was by
him, as one brought up with him; rejoicing in the habitable parts of
the earth.  My delights were with the sons of men."+

NOTES

271. +Transliteration: tymbos amphipolos.  Translation: "a much
frequented tomb."

274. In some fine reliefs of the thirteenth century, Jesus himself
draws near to the deathbed of his Mother.  The soul has already
quitted her body, and is seated, a tiny crowned figure, on his left
arm (as she had carried Him) to be taken to heaven.  In the beautiful
early fourteenth century monument of Aymer de Valence at Westminster,
the soul of the deceased, "a small figure wrapped in a mantle," is
supported by two angels at the head of the tomb.  Among many similar
instances may be mentioned the soul of the beggar, Lazarus, on a
carved capital at Vézélay; and the same subject in a coloured window
at Bourges.  The clean, white little creature seems glad to escape
from the body, tattooed all over with its sores in a regular pattern.

279. +Transliteration: Ariston hydôr.  Translation: "Water is best..."
The ode goes on to praise the Olympic contests.  Pindar, Odes,
Book O, poem 1, line 1.  The Odes of Pindar including the Principal
Fragments with an Introduction and an English Translation by Sir John
Sandys, Litt.D., FBA. Sir John Sandys. Cambridge, MA., Harvard
University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1937.

280. +Transliteration: epeôn hoimon ligyn.  Translation: "the clear
strain of words [i.e. song]."  Pindar, Odes, Book O., poem 9, line
47.  See page 279 note for reference.

281. +Transliteration: mousikê.  Liddell and Scott definition: "any
art over which the Muses presided, esp. music or lyric poetry set and
sung to music...."

288. +Transliteration: to de phya hapan kratiston.  Pater's translation:
"The natural is ever best!"  Pindar, Odes, Book O., poem 9, line 100.
See See page 279 note for reference.

299. +Proverbs 8.30-31.

THE END




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