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Title: Excursions in Art and Letters
Author: Story, William Wetmore
Language: English
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Books by Mr. Story.


  POEMS. I. PARCHMENTS AND PORTRAITS. II. MONOLOGUES AND LYRICS. 2
    vols. 16mo, $2.50.

  HE AND SHE; or, A POET’S PORTFOLIO. 18mo, illuminated vellum, $1.00.

  FIAMMETTA. A Novel. 16mo, $1.25.

  ROBA DI ROMA. New Revised Edition, from new plates. With Notes. 2
    vols. 16mo, $2.50.

  CONVERSATIONS IN A STUDIO. 2 vols. 16mo, $2.50.

  EXCURSIONS IN ART AND LETTERS. 16mo, $1.25.


  HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN & CO.
  BOSTON AND NEW YORK.



  EXCURSIONS IN ART
  AND LETTERS


  BY
  WILLIAM WETMORE STORY

  D.C.L. (OXON.)
  COMM. CORONA ITALIA, OFF. LEG. D’HONNEUR, ETC.


  [Illustration]


  BOSTON AND NEW YORK
  HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY
  The Riverside Press, Cambridge
  1893



  Copyright, 1891,
  BY WILLIAM WETMORE STORY.

  _All rights reserved._


  THIRD EDITION.


  _The Riverside Press, Cambridge, Mass., U. S. A._
  Electrotyped and Printed by H. O. Houghton & Co.



CONTENTS.


                                                                    PAGE

  MICHEL ANGELO                                                        1

  PHIDIAS, AND THE ELGIN MARBLES                                      49

  THE ART OF CASTING IN PLASTER AMONG THE ANCIENT GREEKS AND ROMANS  115

  A CONVERSATION WITH MARCUS AURELIUS                                190

  DISTORTIONS OF THE ENGLISH STAGE AS INSTANCED IN “MACBETH”         232



EXCURSIONS IN ART AND LETTERS.



MICHEL ANGELO.


The overthrow of the pagan religion was the deathblow of pagan Art. The
temples shook to their foundations, the statues of the gods shuddered,
a shadow darkened across the pictured and sculptured world, when
through the ancient realm was heard the wail, “Pan, great Pan is dead.”
The nymphs fled to their caves affrighted. Dryads, Oreads, and Naiads
abandoned the groves, mountains, and streams that they for ages had
haunted. Their voices were heard no more singing by shadowy brooks,
their faces peered no longer through the sighing woods; and of all the
mighty train of greater and lesser divinities and deified heroes to
whom Greece and Rome had bent the knee and offered sacrifice, Orpheus
alone lingered in the guise of the Good Shepherd.

Christianity struck the deathblow not only to pagan Art, but for a time
to all Art. Sculpture and Painting were in its mind closely allied
to idolatry. Under its influence the arts slowly wasted away as with
a mortal disease. With ever-declining strength they struggled for
centuries, gasping as it were for breath, and finally, almost in utter
atrophy, half alive, half dead,—a ruined, maimed, deformed presence,
shorn of all their glory and driven out by the world,—they found a
beggarly refuge and sufferance in some Christian church or monastery.

The noble and majestic statues of the sculptured gods of ancient Greece
were overthrown and buried in the ground, their glowing and pictured
figures were swept from the walls of temples and dwellings, and in
their stead only a crouching, timid race of bloodless saints were seen,
not glad to be men, and fearful of God. Humanity dared no longer to
stand erect, but groveled in superstitious fear, and lashed its flesh
in penance, and was ashamed and afraid of all its natural instincts.
How then was it possible for Art to live? Beauty, happiness, life, and
joy were but a snare and a temptation, and Religion and Art, which can
never be divorced, crouched together in fear.

The long black period of the Middle Ages came to shroud everything in
ignorance. Literature, art, poetry, science, sank into a nightmare of
sleep. Only arms survived. The world became a battlefield, simply for
power and dominion, until religion, issuing from the Church, bore in
its van the banner of chivalry.

But the seasons of history are like the seasons of the year. Nothing
utterly dies. And after the long apparently dead winter of the Middle
Ages the spring came again—the spring of the Renaissance—when liberty
and humanity awoke, and art, literature, science, poesy, all suddenly
felt a new influence come over them. The Church itself shook off
its apathy, inspired by a new spirit. Liberty, long downtrodden and
tyrannized over, roused itself, and struck for popular rights. The
great contest of the Guelphs and Ghibellines began. There was a ferment
throughout all society. The great republics of Italy arose. Commerce
began to flourish; and despite all the wars, contests, and feuds of
people and nobles, and the decimations from plague and disease, art,
literature, science, and religion itself, burst forth into a new and
vigorous life. One after another there arose those great men whose
names shine like planets in history—Dante, with his wonderful “Divina
Commedia,” written, as it were, with a pen of fire against a stormy
background of night; Boccaccio, with his sunny sheaf of idyllic tales;
Petrarca, the earnest lover of liberty, the devoted patriot, the
archæologist and philosopher as well as poet, whose tender and noble
spirit is marked through his exquisitely finished canzone and sonnets,
and his various philosophical works; Villari, the historian; and all
the illustrious company that surrounded the court of Lorenzo the
Magnificent—Macchiavelli, Poliziano, Boiardo, the three Pulci, Leon
Battista Alberti, Aretino, Pico della Mirandola, and Marsilio Ficino;
and, a little later, Ariosto and Tasso, whose stanzas are still sung
by the gondoliers of Venice; and Guarini and Bibbiena and Bembo,—and
many another in the fields of poesy and literature. Music then also
began to develop itself; and Guido di Arezzo arranged the scale and
the new method of notation. Art also sent forth a sudden and glorious
coruscation of genius, beginning with Cimabue and Giotto, to shake off
the stiff cerements of Byzantine tradition in which it had so long been
swathed, and to stretch its limbs to freer action, and spread its wings
to higher flights of power, invention, and beauty. The marble gods,
which had lain dethroned and buried in the earth for so many centuries,
rose with renewed life from their graves, and reasserted over the world
of Art the dominion they had lost in the realm of Religion. It is
useless to rehearse the familiar names that then illumined the golden
age of Italian art, where shine preëminent those of Leonardo, the
widest and most universal genius that perhaps the world has ever seen;
of Michel Angelo, the greatest power that ever expressed itself in
stone or color; of Raffaelle, whose exquisite grace and facile design
have never been surpassed; and of Titian, Giorgione, Veronese, and
Tintoretto, with their Venetian splendors. Nor did science lag behind.
Galileo ranged the heavens with his telescope, and, like a second
Joshua, bade the sun stand still; and Columbus, ploughing the unknown
deep, added another continent to the known world.

This was the Renaissance or new birth in Italy; after the long
drear night of ignorance and darkness, again the morning came and
the glory returned. As Italy above all other lands is the land of
the Renaissance, so Florence above all cities is the city of the
Renaissance. Its streets are haunted by historic associations; at
every corner, and in every byplace or piazza, you meet the spirits
of the past. The ghosts of the great men who have given such a charm
and perfume to history meet you at every turn. Here they walked and
worked centuries ago; here to the imagination they still walk, and
they scarcely seem gone. Here is the stone upon which Dante sat and
meditated,—was it an hour ago or six centuries? Here Brunelleschi
watched the growing of his mighty dome, and here Michel Angelo stood
and gazed at it while dreaming of that other mighty dome of St.
Peter’s which he was afterwards to raise, and said, “Like it I will
not, and better I cannot.” As one walks through the piazza of Sta
Maria Novella, and looks up at the façade that Michel Angelo called
his “sposa,” it is not difficult again to people it with the glad
procession that bore Cimabue’s famous picture, with shouts and pomp
and rejoicing, to its altar within the church. In the Piazza della
Signoria one may in imagination easily gather a crowd of famous men
to listen to the piercing tones and powerful eloquence of Savonarola.
Here gazing up, one may see towering against the sky, and falling as it
were against the trooping clouds, the massive fortress-like structure
of the Palazzo Publico, with its tall machicolated tower, whence the
bell so often called the turbulent populace together; or dropping
one’s eyes, behold under the lofty arches of the Loggia of Orcagna
the marble representations of the ancient and modern world assembled
together,—peacefully: the antique Ajax, the Renaissance Perseus of
Cellini, the Rape of the Sabines, by John of Bologna, and the late
group of Polyxines, by Fedi, holding solemn and silent conclave. In
the Piazza del Duomo at the side of Brunelleschi’s noble dome, the
exquisite campanile of Giotto, slender, graceful, and joyous, stands
like a bride and whispers ever the name of its master and designer.
And turning round, one may see the Baptistery celebrated by Dante, and
those massive bronze doors storied by Ghiberti, which Michel Angelo
said were worthy to be the doors of Paradise. History and romance
meets us everywhere. The old families still give their names to the
streets, and palaces, and _loggie_. Every now and then a marble slab
upon some house records the birth or death within of some famous
citizen, artist, writer, or patriot, or perpetuates the memory of some
great event. There is scarcely a street or a square which has not
something memorable to say and to recall, and one walks through the
streets guided by memory, looking behind more than before, and seeing
with the eyes of the imagination. Here is the Bargello, by turns the
court of the Podestà and the prison of Florence, whence so many edicts
were issued, and where the groans of so many prisoners were echoed.
Here is the Church of the Carmine, where Masaccio and Lippi painted
those frescoes which are still living on its walls, though the hands
that painted and the brains that dreamed them into life are gone
forever. Here are the _loggie_ which were granted only to the fifteen
highest citizens, from which fair ladies, who are now but dust, looked
and laughed so many a year ago. Here are the _piazze_ within whose
tapestried stockades gallant knights jousted in armor, and fair eyes,
gazing from above, “rained influence and adjudged the prize.” Here are
the fortifications at which Michel Angelo worked as an engineer and
as a combatant; and here among the many churches, each one of which
bears on its walls or over its altars the painted or sculptured work
of some of the great artists of the flowering prime of Florence, is
that of the Santa Croce, the sacred and solemn mausoleum of many of
its mighty dead. As we wander through its echoing nave at twilight,
when the shadows of evening are deepening, we may hold communion with
these great spirits of the past. The Peruzzi and Baldi Chapels are
illustrated by the frescoes of Giotto. The foot treads upon many a
slab under which lie the remains of soldier, and knight, and noble,
and merchant prince, who, centuries ago, their labors and battles and
commerce done, were here laid to rest. The nave on either side is lined
with monumental statues of the illustrious dead. Ungrateful Florence,
who drove her greatest poet from her gates to find a grave in Ravenna,
_patriis extorris ab urbe_, here tardily and in penitence raised to him
a monument after vainly striving to reclaim his bones. Here, too, among
others, are the statues and monuments of Michel Angelo, Macchiavelli,
Galileo, Lanzi, Aretino, Guicciardini, Alfieri, Leon Battista Alberti,
and Raffaelle Morghen.

Of all the great men who shed a lustre over Florence, no one so
domineers over it and pervades it with his memory and his presence as
Michel Angelo. The impression he left upon his own age and upon all
subsequent ages is deeper, perhaps, than that left by any other save
Dante. Everything in Florence recalls him. The dome of Brunelleschi,
impressive and beautiful as it is, and prior in time to that of
St. Peter’s, cannot rid itself of its mighty brother in Rome. With
Ghiberti’s doors are ever associated his words. In Santa Croce we all
pause longer before the tomb where his body is laid than before any
other—even that of Dante. The empty place before the Palazzo Vecchio,
where his David stood, still holds its ghost. All places which knew
him in life are still haunted by his memory. The house where he lived,
thought, and worked is known to every pilgrim of art. The least
fragment which his hand touched is there preserved as precious, simply
because it was his; and it is with a feeling of reverence that we enter
the little closet where his mighty works were designed. There still
stands his folding desk, lit by a little slip of a window; and there
are the shelves and pigeon-holes where he kept his pencils, colors,
tools, and books. The room is so narrow that one can scarcely turn
about in it; and the contrast between this narrow, restricted space and
the vastness of the thoughts which there were born, and the extent of
his fame which fills the world, is strangely impressive and affecting.
Here, barring the door behind him to exclude the world, he sat and
studied and wrote and drew, little dreaming that hundreds of thousands
of pilgrims would in after-centuries come to visit it in reverence from
a continent then but just discovered, and peopled only with savages.

But more than all other places, the Church of San Lorenzo is identified
with him; and the Medicean Chapel, which he designed, is more a
monument to him than to those in honor of whom it was built.

Here, therefore, under the shadow of these noble shapes, and in the
silent influence of this solemn place, let us cast a hurried glance
over the career and character of Michel Angelo as exhibited in his life
and his greatest works. To do more than this would be impossible within
the brief limits we can here command. We may then give a glance into
the adjoining and magnificent Hall, which is the real mausoleum of the
Medici, and is singularly in contrast with it.

Michel Angelo was born at Caprese, in the Casentino, near Florence, on
March 6, 1474 or 1475, according as we reckon from the nativity or the
incarnation of Christ. He died at Rome on Friday, February 23, 1564, at
the ripe age of eighty-nine or ninety. He claimed to be of the noble
family of the Counts of Canossa. He certainly was of the family of the
Berlinghi. His father was one of the twelve Buonomini, and was Podestà
of Caprese when Michel Angelo was born. From his early youth he showed
a strong inclination to art, and vainly his father sought to turn him
aside from this vocation. His early studies were under Ghirlandajo.
But he soon left his master to devote himself to sculpture; and he was
wont to say that he “had imbibed this disposition with his nurse’s
milk”—she being the wife of a stone-carver. Lorenzo the Magnificent
favored him and received him into his household; and there under his
patronage he prosecuted his studies, associating familiarly with some
of the most remarkable men of the period, enriching his mind with
their conversation, and giving himself earnestly to the study not
only of art, but of science and literature. The celebrated Angelo
Poliziano, then tutor to the sons of Lorenzo, was strongly attracted
to him, and seems to have adopted him also as a pupil. His early
efforts as a sculptor were not remarkable; and though many stories
are told of his great promise and efficiency, but little weight is
to be given to them. He soon, however, began to distinguish himself
among his contemporaries; and his Cupid and Bacchus, though wanting
in all the spirit and characteristics of antique work, were, for the
time and age of the sculptor, important and remarkable. After this
followed the Pietà, now in St. Peter’s at Rome, in which a different
spirit began to exhibit itself; but it was not till later on that the
great individuality and originality of his mind was shown, when from
an inform block of rejected marble he hewed the colossal figure of
David. He had at last found the great path of his genius. From this
time forward he went on with ever-increasing power—working in many
various arts, and stamping on each the powerful character of his mind.
His grandest and most characteristic works in sculpture and painting
were executed in his middle age. The Sistine Chapel he completed when
he was thirty-eight years old, the stern figure of the Moses when he
was forty, the great sculptures of the Medici Chapel when he was from
fifty to fifty-five; and in his sixty-sixth year he finished the Last
Judgment. Thenceforth his thoughts were chiefly given to architecture,
with excursions into poetry—though during this latter period he painted
the frescoes in the Pauline Chapel; and after being by turns sculptor,
painter, architect, engineer, and poet, he spent the last years of his
life in designing and superintending the erection of St. Peter’s at
Rome.

One of his last works, if not the last, was the model of the famous
cupola of St. Peter’s, which he never saw completed. In some respects
this was departed from in its execution by his successors; but in every
change it lost, and had it been carried out strictly as he designed
it, it would have been even nobler and more beautiful than it is.

Here was a long life of ceaseless study, of untiring industry, of
never-flagging devotion to art. Though surrounded by discouragements
of every kind, harassed by his family, forced to obey the arbitrary
will of a succession of Popes, and, in accordance with their orders,
to abandon the execution of his high artistic conceptions and waste
months and years on mere mechanic labor in superintending mines and
quarries—driven against his will, now to be a painter when he desired
to be a sculptor, now to be an architect when he had learned to be
a painter, now as an engineer to be employed on fortifications when
he was longing for his art; through all the exigencies of his life,
and all the worrying claims of patrons, family, and country, he kept
steadily on, never losing courage even to the end—a man of noble
life, high faith, pure instincts, great intellect, powerful will, and
inexhaustible energy; proud and scornful, but never vain; violent of
character, but generous and true,—never guilty through all his long
life of a single mean or unworthy act: a silent, serious, unsocial,
self-involved man, oppressed with the weight of great thoughts, and
burdened by many cares and sorrows. With but a grim humor, and none
of the lighter graces of life, he went his solitary way, ploughing a
deeper furrow in his age than any of his contemporaries, remarkable as
they were,—an earnest and unwearied student and seeker, even to the
last.

It was in his old age that he made a drawing of himself in a child’s
go-cart with the motto “Ancora imparo”—I am still learning. And one
winter day toward the end of his life, the Cardinal Gonsalvi met him
walking down towards the Colosseum during a snowstorm. Stopping his
carriage, the Cardinal asked where he was going in such stormy weather.
“To school,” he answered “to try to learn something.”

Slowly, as years advanced, his health declined, but his mind retained
to the last all its energy and clearness; and many a craggy sonnet
and madrigal he wrote towards the end of his life, full of high
thought and feeling—struggling for expression, and almost rebelliously
submitting to the limits of poetic form; and at last, peacefully, after
eighty-nine long years of earnest labor and never-failing faith, he
passed away, and the great light went out. No! it did not go out; it
still burns as brightly as ever across these long centuries to illumine
the world.

Fitly to estimate the power of Michel Angelo as a sculptor, we must
study the great works in the Medicean Chapel in the Church of San
Lorenzo, which show the culmination of his genius in this branch of art.

The original church of San Lorenzo was founded in 930, and is one of
the most ancient in Italy. It was burned down in 1423, and reërected in
1425 by the Medici from Brunelleschi’s designs. Later, in 1523, by the
order of Leo X., Michel Angelo designed and began to execute the new
sacristy, which was intended to serve as a mausoleum to Giuliano dei
Medici, Duke of Nemours, brother of Leo X., and younger son of Lorenzo
the Magnificent; and to Lorenzo, Duke of Urbino, and grandson of the
great Lorenzo. Within this mausoleum, which is now called the Medici
Chapel, were placed the statues of Giuliano and Lorenzo. They are both
seated on lofty pedestals, and face each other on opposite sides of
the chapel. At the base of one, reclining on a huge sarcophagus, are
the colossal figures of Day and Night, and at the base of the other
the figures of Aurora and Crepuscule. This chapel is quite separated
from the church itself. You enter from below by a dark and solemn
crypt, beneath which are the bodies of thirty-four of the family,
with large slabs at intervals on the pavement, on which their names
are recorded. You ascend a staircase, and go through a corridor into
this chapel. It is solemn, cold, bare, white, and lighted from above
by a lantern open to the sky. There is no color, the lower part being
carved of white marble, and the upper part and railings wrought in
stucco. A chill comes over you as you enter it; and the whole place is
awed into silence by these majestic and solemn figures. You at once
feel yourself to be in the presence of an influence, serious, grand,
impressive, and powerful, and of a character totally different from
anything that sculpture has hitherto produced, either in the ancient
or modern world. Whatever may be the defects of these great works, and
they are many and evident, one feels that here a lofty intellect and
power has struggled, and fought its way, so to speak, into the marble,
and brought forth from the insensate stone a giant brood of almost
supernatural shapes. It is not nature that he has striven to render,
but rather to embody thoughts, and to clothe in form conceptions
which surpass the limits of ordinary nature. It is idle to apply here
the rigid rules of realism. The attitudes are distorted, and almost
impossible. No figure could ever retain the position of the Night at
best for more than a moment, and to sleep in such an attitude would be
scarcely possible. And yet a mighty burden of sleep weighs down this
figure, and the solemnity of night itself broods over it. So also the
Day is more like a primeval titanic form than the representation of a
human being. The action of the head, for instance, is beyond nature.
The head itself is merely blocked out, and scarcely indicated in its
features. But this very fact is in itself a stroke of genius; for the
suggestion of mystery in this vague and unfinished face is far more
impressive than any elaborated head could have been. It is supposed
he left it thus, because he found the action too strained. So be
it; but here is Day still involved in clouds, but now arousing from
its slumbers, throwing off the mists of darkness, and rising with a
tremendous energy of awakening life. The same character also pervades
the Aurora and Crepuscule. They are not man and woman, they are types
of ideas. One lifts its head, for the morning is coming; one holds its
head abased, for the gloom of evening is drawing on. There is no joy
in any of these figures. A terrible sadness and seriousness oppresses
them. Aurora does not smile at the coming of the light, is not glad,
has little hope, but looks upon it with a terrible weariness, almost
with despair—for it sees little promise, and doubts far more than it
hopes. Twilight, again, almost disdainfully sinks to repose. The day
has accomplished almost nothing: oppressed and hopeless, it sees the
darkness close about it.

What Michel Angelo meant to embody in these statues can only be
guessed—but certainly no trivial thought. Their names convey nothing.
It was not beauty, or grace, or simple truth to nature, that he sought
to express. In making them, the weight of this unexplained mystery of
life hung over him; the struggle of humanity against superior forces
oppressed him. The doubts, the despair, the power, the indomitable will
of his own nature are in them. They are not the expressions of the
natural day of the world, of the glory of the sunrise, the tenderness
of the twilight, the broad gladness of day, or the calm repose of
night; but they are seasons and epochs of the spirit of man—its doubts
and fears, its sorrows and longings and unrealized hopes. The sad
condition of his country oppressed him. Its shame overwhelmed him. His
heart was with Savonarola, to whose excited preaching he had listened,
and his mind was inflamed by the hope of a spiritual regeneration
of Italy and the world. The gloom of Dante enshrouded him, and the
terrible shapes of the “Inferno” had made deeper impression on his
nature than all the sublimed glories of the “Paradiso.” His colossal
spirit stood fronting the agitated storms of passions which then shook
his country, like a rugged cliff that braves the tempest-whipped
sea—disdainfully casting from its violent and raging waves, and longing
almost with a vain hope for the time when peace, honor, liberty, and
religion should rule the world.

This at least would seem to be implied in the lines he wrote under his
statue of Night, in response to the quatrain written there by Giovan’
Battista Strozzi. These are the lines of Strozzi:—

   “La notte che tu vedi in si dolci atti
    Dormire, fu da an angelo scolpita
    In questo sasso; e, perchè dorme, ha vita
    Destala, se no ’l credi, e parleratti.”

Which may be thus rendered in English:—

   “Night, which in peaceful attitude you see
    Here sleeping, from this stone an angel wrought.
    Sleeping, it lives. If you believe it not,
    Awaken it, and it will speak to thee.”

And this was Michel Angelo’s response:—

   “Grato mi è il sonno, e piu l’ esser de sasso
    Mentre che il danno e la vergogna dura
    Non veder non sentir m’ è gran ventura
    Però, non mi destar; deh! parla basso.”

Which may be rendered:—

   “Grateful is sleep—and more, of stone to be;
    So long as crime and shame here hold their state,
    Who cannot see nor feel is fortunate—
    Therefore speak low, and do not waken me.”

This would clearly seem to show that under these giant shapes he meant
to embody allegorically at once the sad condition of humanity and the
oppressed condition of his country. What lends itself still more to
this interpretation is the character and expression of both the statues
of Lorenzo and Giuliano, and particularly that of Lorenzo, who leans
forward with his hand raised to his chin in so profound and sad a
meditation that the world has given it the name of Il Pensiero—not even
calling it Il Pensieroso, the thinker, but Il Pensiero, thought itself;
while the attitude and expression of Giuliano is of one who helplessly
holds the sceptre and lets the world go, heedless of all its crime and
folly, and too weak to lend his hand to set it right.

But whatever the interpretation to be given to these statues, in power,
originality, and grandeur of character they have never been surpassed.
It is easy to carp at their defects. Let them all be granted. They
are contorted, uneasy, over-anatomical, untrue to nature. Viewed with
the keen and searching eye of the critic, they are full of faults,
_e pur si muove_. There is a lift of power, an energy of conception,
a grandeur and boldness of treatment which redeems all defects. They
are the work of a great mind, spurning the literal, daring almost the
impossible, and using human form as a means of thought and expression.
It may almost be said that in a certain sense they are great, not in
despite of their faults, but by very virtue of these faults. In them is
a spirit which was unknown to the Greeks and Romans. They sought the
simple, the dignified, the natural; beauty was their aim and object.
Their ideal was a quiet, passionless repose, with little action,
little insistence of parts. Their treatment was large and noble, their
attitude calm. No torments reach them, or if passion enter, it is
subdued to beauty:—

    “Calm pleasures there abide, majestic pains.”

Their gods looked down upon earth through the noblest forms of Phidias
with serenity, heedless of the violent struggles of humanity—like
grand and peaceful presences. Even in the Laocoön, which stepped to
the utmost permitted bounds of the antique sculpture, there is the
restraint of beauty, and suffering is modified to grace. But here in
these Titans of Michel Angelo there is a new spirit—better or worse,
it is new. It represents humanity caught in the terrible net of Fate,
storming the heavens, Prometheus-like, breaking forth from the bonds of
convention, and terrible as grand. But noble as these works are, they
afford no proper school for imitation, and his followers have, as has
been fitly said, only caught the contortions without the inspiration
of the sibyl. They lift the spirit, enlarge the mind, and energize the
will of those who feel them and are willing only to feel them; but they
are bad models for imitation. It is only such great and original minds
as Michel Angelo who can force the grand and powerful out of the wrong
and unnatural; and he himself only at rare intervals prevailed in doing
this violence to nature.

Every man has a right to be judged by his best. It is not the number
of his failures but the value of his successes which afford the just
gauge of every man’s genius. Here in these great statues Michel
Angelo succeeded, and they are the highest tide-mark of his power as
a sculptor. The Moses, despite its elements of strength and power, is
of a lower grade. The Pietà is the work of a young man who has not as
yet grown to his full strength, and who is shackled by his age and his
contemporaries. The David has high qualities of nobility, but it is
constrained to the necessities of the marble in which it is wrought.
The Christ in the Church of the Minerva is scarcely worthy of him. But
in these impersonations of Day, Night, Twilight, and Dawn, his genius
had full scope, and rose to its greatest height.

These statues were executed by Michel Angelo, with various and annoying
interruptions, when he was more than fifty-five years of age, and while
he was in ill-health and very much overworked. Indeed, such was his
condition of health at this time that it gave great anxiety to his
friends, and Giovanni Battista Mini, writing to his friend Bartolommeo
Valori on the 29th of September, 1531, says: “Michel Angelo has fallen
off in flesh, and the other day with Buggiardini and Antonio Mini we
had a private talk about him, and we came to the conclusion that he
will not live long unless things are remedied. He works very hard, eats
little and that little is bad, sleeps not at all, and for a month past
his sight has been weak, and he has pains in the head and vertigo, and,
in fine, his head is affected and so is his heart, but there is a cure
for each, for he is healthy.” He was so besieged on all sides with
commissions, and particularly by the Duke of Urbino, that the Pope at
last issued a brief, ordering him, under pain of excommunication, to do
no work except on these monuments,—and thus he was enabled to command
his time and to carry on these great works to the condition in which
they now are, though he never was able completely to finish them.

Of the same race with them are the wonderful frescoes of the sibyls
and prophets and Biblical figures and Titans that live on the ceiling
of the Sistine Chapel. And these are as amazing as, perhaps even more
amazing in their way than, the sculpture of the Medicean Chapel. He
was but thirty-four years of age when, at the instigation of Bramante,
he was summoned to Rome by Pope Julius II. to decorate the ceiling. It
is unpleasant to think that Bramante, in urging this step upon the
Pope, was animated with little good-will to Michel Angelo. From all
accounts it would seem he was jealous of his growing fame, and deemed
that in undertaking this colossal work failure would be inevitable.
Michel Angelo had indeed worked in his youth under Ghirlandajo, but
had soon abandoned his studio and devoted himself to sculpture; and
though he had painted some few labored pictures and produced the
famous designs for the great hall of the municipality at Florence,
in competition with his famous rival Leonardo da Vinci, yet these
cartoons had never been executed by him, and his fame was chiefly, if
not solely, as a sculptor. Michel Angelo himself, though strongly urged
to this undertaking by the Pope, was extremely averse to it, and at
first refused, declaring that “painting was not his profession.” The
Pope, however, was persistent, and Michel was forced at last to yield,
and to accept the commission. He then immediately began to prepare his
cartoons, and, ignorant and doubtful of his own powers, summoned to his
assistance several artists in Florence, to learn more properly from
them the method of painting in fresco. Not satisfied with their work on
the ceiling, he suddenly closed the doors upon them, sent them away,
and, shutting himself up alone in the chapel, erased what they had done
and began alone with his own hand. It was only about six weeks after
his arrival in Rome that he thus began, and in this short space of time
he had completed his designs, framed and erected the scaffolds, laid
on the rough casting preparatory to the finishing layer, and commenced
his frescoes. This alone is an immense labor, and shows a wonderful
mastery of all his powers. The design is entirely original, not only
in the composition and character of the figures themselves, but in the
architectural divisions and combinations in which they are placed.
There are no less than 343 figures, of great variety of movements,
grandiose proportions, and many of them of colossal size; and to the
sketches he first designed he seems to have absolutely adhered. Of
course, within such a time he could not have made the large cartoons
in which the figures were developed in their full proportions, but he
seems only to have enlarged them from his figures as first sketched.
With indomitable energy, and a persistence of labor which has scarcely
a parallel, alone and without encouragement he prosecuted his task,
despite the irritations and annoyances which he was forced to endure,
the constant delays of payment, the fretful complaints of the impatient
Pope, the accidents and disappointments incident to an art in which he
had previously had no practice, and the many and worrying troubles from
home by which he was constantly pursued. At last the Pope’s impatience
became imperious; and when the vault was only one half completed, he
forced Michel Angelo, under threats of his severe displeasure, to
throw down the scaffolding and exhibit it to the world. The chapel was
accordingly opened on All Saints’ Day in November, 1508. The public
flocked to see it, and a universal cry of admiration was raised. In
the crowd which then assembled was Raffaelle, and the impression he
received is plain from the fact that his style was at once so strongly
modified by it. Bramante, too, was there, expecting to see the failure
which he had anticipated, and to rejoice in the downfall of his great
rival. But he was destined to be disappointed, and, as is recounted,
but as one is unwilling to believe, he used his utmost efforts to
induce the Pope to discharge Michel Angelo and commission Raffaelle to
complete the ceiling. It is even added that Raffaelle himself joined
in this intrigue, but there is no proof of this, and let us disbelieve
it. Certain it is that in the presence of the Pope, when Michel Angelo
broke forth in fierce language against Bramante for this injurious
proposal, and denounced him for his ignorance and incapacity, he did
not involve Raffaelle in the same denunciation. Still there seems to
be little doubt that the party and friends of Raffaelle exerted their
utmost influence to induce the Pope to substitute him for Michel
Angelo. They did not, however, succeed. The Pope was steadfast, and
again the doors were closed, and he was ordered to complete the work.

When again he began to paint there is no record. Winter is unfavorable
to fresco-painting, and when a frost sets in, it cannot be carried
on. In the autumn of 1510 we know that he applied to the Pope for
permission to visit his friends in Florence, and for an advance of
money; that the Pope replied by demanding when his work would be
completed, and that the artist replied, “As soon as I shall be able;”
on which the Pope, repeating his words, struck him with his cane.
Michel Angelo was not a man to brook this, and he instantly abandoned
his work and went to Florence. The Pope, however, sent his page
Accursio after him with pacific words, praying him to return, and with
a purse of fifty crowns to pay his expenses; and after some delay he
did return.

Vasari and Condivi both assert that the vault of the Sistine Chapel was
painted by Michel Angelo “alone and unaided, even by any one to grind
his colors, in twenty months.” But this cannot be true. He certainly
had assistance not only for all the laying of the plaster and the
merely mechanical work, but also in the painting of the architecture,
and even of portions of the figures; and it now seems to be pretty
clear that the chapel was not completed until 1512. But this in itself,
considering all the breaks and intervals when the work was necessarily
interrupted, is stupendous.

The extraordinary rapidity with which he worked is clearly proved by
the close examination which the erection of scaffolding has recently
enabled Mr. Charles Heath Wilson and others to make. Fresco-painting
can only be done while the plaster is fresh (hence its name); and as
the plaster laid on one day will not serve for the next, it must be
removed unless the painting on it is completed. The junction of the
new plaster leaves a slight line of division when closely examined, and
thus it is easy to detect how much has been accomplished each day. It
scarcely seems credible, though there can be no doubt of the fact, that
many of the nude figures above life-size were painted in two days. The
noble reclining figure of Adam occupied him only three days; and the
colossal figures of the sibyls and prophets, which, if standing, would
be eighteen feet in height, occupied him only from three to four days
each. When one considers the size of these figures, the difficulty of
painting anything overhead where the artist is constrained to work in
a reclining position and often lying flat on his back, and the beauty,
tenderness, and careful finish which has been given to all parts,
and especially to the heads, this rapidity of execution seems almost
marvelous.

Seen from below, these figures are solemn and striking; but seen
near by, their grandeur of character is vastly more impressive, and
their beauty and refinement, which are less apparent when seen from a
distance, are quite as remarkable as their power and energy. Great as
Michel Angelo was as a sculptor, he seems even greater as a painter.
Not only is the design broader and larger, but there is a freedom of
attitude, a strength and loftiness of conception, and a beauty of
treatment, which are beyond what he reached, or perhaps strove for, in
his statues. The figure of Adam, for instance, is not more wonderful
for its novelty and power of design than for its truth to nature.
The figure of the Deity, encompassed by angelic forms, is whirling
down upon him like a tempest. His mighty arm is outstretched, and from
his extended fingers an electric flash of life seems to strike into
the uplifted hand of Adam, whose reclining figure, issuing from the
constraint of death, and quivering with this new thrill of animated
being, stirs into action, and rises half to meet his Creator. Nothing
could be more grand than this conception, more certain than its
expression, or more simple than its treatment. Nothing, too, has ever
been accomplished in art more powerful, varied, and original than the
colossal figures of the sibyls and the prophets. The Ezekiel, listening
to the voice of inspiration; the Jeremiah, surcharged with meditative
thought, and weighed down with it as a lowering cloud with rain;
the youthful Daniel, writing on his book, which an angel supports;
Esaias, in the fullness of his manhood, leaning his elbow on his book
and holding his hand suspended while turning he listens to the angel
whose tidings he is to record; and the aged Zacharias, with his long
beard, swathed in heavy draperies, and intently reading,—these are the
prophets; and alternating with them on the span of the arch are the
sibyls,—the noble Erythrean, seated almost in profile, with crossed
legs, and turning the leaves of her book with one hand while the other
drops at her side, grand in the still serenity of her beauty; the aged
Persian sibyl, turning sideway to peruse the book which she holds
close to her eyes, while above her recline two beautiful naked youths,
and below her sleeps a madonna with the child Christ; the Libyan,
holding high behind her with extended arms her open scroll, and looking
down over her shoulder; the Cumæan, old, weird, Dantesque in her
profile, with a napkin folded on her head, reading in self-absorption,
while two angels gaze at her; and last, the Delphic, sweet, calm,
and beautiful in the perfectness of womanhood, who looks serenely
down over her shoulder to charm us with a peaceful prophecy. All the
faces and heads o£ these figures are evidently drawn from noble and
characteristic models,—if, indeed, any models at all are used; and some
of them, especially those of the Delphic and Erythrean, are full of
beauty as well as power. All are painted with great care and feeling,
and a lofty inspiration has guided a loving hand. There is nothing
vague, feeble, or flimsy in them. They are ideal in the true sense—the
strong embodiment of great ideas.

Even to enumerate the other figures would require more time and space
than can now be given. But we cannot pass over in silence the wonderful
series illustrative of Biblical history which form the centre of the
ceiling, beginning with Chaos struggling into form, and ending with
Lot and his children. Here in succession are the division of light
from darkness—the Spirit of God moving over the face of the waters
(an extraordinary conception, which Raffaelle strove in vain to
reproduce in another form in the Loggie of the Vatican); the wonderful
creation of Adam; the temptation of the serpent, and the expulsion from
Paradise, so beautiful in composition and feeling; the sacrifice to
God; and finally the Flood.

Besides these are the grand nude figures of the decoration, which have
never been equaled; and many Biblical stories, which, in the richness
and multitude of greater things, are lost, but which in themselves
would suffice to make any artist famous: as, for instance, the group
called Rehoboam, a female figure bending forward and resting her
hand upon her face, with the child leaning against her knee—a lovely
sculptural group, admirably composed, and full of pathos; and the
stern, despairing figure entitled Jesse, looking straight out into the
distance before him—like Fate.

Here is no attempt at scenic effect, no effort for the picturesque,
no literal desire for realism, no pictorial graces. A sombre, noble
tone of color pervades them,—harmonizing with their grand design, but
seeking nothing for itself, and sternly subjected and restrained to
these powerful conceptions. Nature silently withdraws and looks on,
awed by these mighty presences.

Only a tremendous energy and will could have enabled Michel Angelo to
conceive and execute these works. The spirit in which he worked is
heroic: oppressed as he was by trouble and want, he never lost courage
or faith. Here is a fragment of a letter he wrote to his brother while
employed on this work, which will show the temper and character of the
man. It is truly in the spirit of the Stoics of old:—

    “Make no friendship nor intimacies with any one but the Almighty
    alone. Speak neither good nor evil of any one, because the end
    of these things cannot yet be known. Attend only to your own
    affairs. I must tell you I have no money.” (He says this in
    answer to constant applications from his unworthy brother for
    pecuniary assistance.) “I am, I may say, shoeless and naked. I
    cannot receive the balance of my pay till I have finished this
    work, and I suffer much from discomfort and fatigue. Therefore,
    when you also have trouble to endure, do not make useless
    complaints, but try to help yourself.”

The names of Raffaelle and Michel Angelo are so associated, that that
of one always rises in the mind when the other is mentioned. Their
geniuses are as absolutely opposite as are their characters. Each is
the antithesis of the other. In the ancient days we have the same
kind of difference between Homer and Virgil, Demosthenes and Cicero,
Æschylus and Euripides; in later days, Molière and Racine, Rousseau
and Voltaire, Shakespeare and Sir Philip Sidney, Beethoven and Mozart,
Dante and Ariosto, Victor Hugo and Lamartine; or to take our own age,
Delacroix and Ary Scheffer, Browning and Tennyson. To the one belongs
the sphere of power, to the other that of charm. One fights his way to
immortality, the other woos it.

Raffaelle was of the latter class—sweet of nature, gentle of
disposition, gifted with a rare sense of grace, a facile talent of
design, and a refinement of feeling which, if it sometimes degenerated
into weakness, never utterly lost its enchantment. He was exceedingly
impressionable, reflected by turns the spirit of his masters,—was first
Perugino, and afterwards modified his style to that of Fra Bartolommeo,
and again, under the influence of Michel Angelo, strove to tread in his
footsteps. He was not of a deep nature nor of a powerful character.
There was nothing torrential in his genius, bursting its way through
obstacles and sweeping all before it. It was rather that of the calm
river, flowing at its own sweet will, and reflecting peacefully the
passing figures of life. He painted as the bird sings. He was an artist
because nature made him one—not because he had vowed himself to art,
and was willing to struggle and fight for its smile. He was gentle and
friendly—a pleasant companion—a superficial lover—handsome of person
and pleasing of address—who always went surrounded by a corona of
followers, who disliked work and left the execution of his designs in
great measure to his pupils, while he toyed with the Fornarina. I do
not mean to undervalue him in what he did. His works are charming—his
invention was lively. He had the happy art of telling his story in
outline, better, perhaps, than any one else of his age. His highest
reach was the Madonna di S. Sisto, and this certainly is full of
that large sweetness and spiritual sensibility which entitles him to
the common epithet of “Divino.” But when he died at the early age of
thirty-seven, he had come to his full development, and there is no
reason to suppose that he would ever have attained a greater height.
Indeed, during his latter years he was tired of his art, neglected
his work, became more and more academic, and preferred to bask in the
sunshine of his fame on its broad levels, to girding up his loins to
struggle up precipitous ascents to loftier peaks. The world already
began to blame him for this neglect, and to say that he had forgotten
how to paint himself, and gave his designs only to his students to
execute. Moved by these rumors, he determined alone to execute a work
in fresco, and this work was the famous Galatea of the Palazzo Farnese.
He was far advanced in it, when, during his absence one morning, a
dark, short, stern-looking man called to see him. In the absence of
Raffaelle, this man gazed attentively at the Galatea for a long time,
and then taking a piece of charcoal, he ascended a ladder which stood
in the corner of the vast room, and drew offhand on the wall a colossal
male head. Then he came down and went away, saying to the attendant,
“If Signore Raffaelle wishes to know who came to see him, show him my
card there on the wall.” When Raffaelle returned, the assistant told
him of his visitor, and showed him the head. “That is Michel Angelo,”
he said, “or the devil.”

And Michel Angelo it was. Raffaelle well knew what that powerful and
colossal head meant, and he felt the terrible truth of its silent
criticism on his own work. It meant, Your fresco is too small for the
room—your style is too pleasing and trivial. Make something grand and
colossal. Brace your mind to higher purpose, train your hand to nobler
design. I say that Raffaelle felt this stern criticism, because he
worked no more there, and only carried out this one design. Raffaelle’s
disposition was sweet and attractive, and he was beloved by all his
friends. Vasari says of him, that he was as much distinguished by his
_amorevolezza ed umanità_, his affectionate and sympathetic nature,
as by his excellence as an artist; and another contemporary speaks of
him as of _summæ bonitatis_, perfect sweetness of character. All this
one sees in his face, which, turning, gazes dreamily at us over his
shoulder, with dark, soft eyes, long hair, and smooth, unsuffering
cheeks where Time has ploughed no furrows—easy, charming, graceful,
refined, and somewhat feminine of character.

Michel Angelo was made of sterner stuff than this. His temper was
violent, his bearing haughty, his character impetuous. He had none
of the personal graces of his great rival. His face was, as it were,
hammered sternly out by fate; his brow corrugated by care, his cheeks
worn by thought, his hair and beard stiffly curled and bull-like; his
expression sad and intense, with a weary longing in his deep-set eyes.
Doubtless, at times, they flamed with indignation and passion—for he
was very irascible, and suffered no liberties to be taken with him.
He could not “sport with Amaryllis in the shade, or with the tangles
of Neæra’s hair.” Art was his mistress, and a stern mistress she was,
urging him ever onward to greater heights. He loved her with a passion
of the intellect; there was nothing he would not sacrifice for her. He
was willing to be poor, almost to starve, to labor with incessant zeal,
grudging even the time that sleep demanded, only to win her favor. He
could not have been a pleasant companion, and he was never a lover of
woman. His friendship with Vittoria Colonna was worlds away from the
senses,—worlds away from such a connection as that of Raffaelle with
the Fornarina. They walked together in the higher fields of thought and
feeling, in the region of ideas and aspirations. Their conversation was
of art, and poesy, and religion, and the mysteries of life. They read
to each other their poems, and discoursed on high themes of religion,
and fate, and foreknowledge. The sonnets he addressed to her were in no
trivial vein of human passion or sentiment.

   “Rapt above earth” (he writes) “by power of one fair face,
    Hers, in whose sway alone my heart delights,
    I mingle with the Blest on those pure heights
    Where man, yet mortal, rarely finds a place—
    With Him who made the Work that Work accords
    So well that, by its help and through His grace,
    I raise my thoughts, inform my deeds and words,
    Clasping her beauty in my soul’s embrace.”

In his _soul’s_ embrace, not in his arms. When he stood beside her
dead body, he silently gazed at her, not daring to imprint a kiss on
that serene brow even when life had departed. If he admired Petrarca,
it was as a philosopher and a patriot,—for his canzone to Liberty,
not for his sonnets to Laura. Dante, whom he called _Stella di alto
valor_, the star of high power, was his favorite poet; Savonarola his
single friend. The “Divina Commedia,” or rather the “Inferno” alone,
he thought worthy of illustration by his pencil; the doctrines of the
latter he warmly espoused. “True beauty,” says that great reformer,
“comes only from the soul, from nobleness of spirit and purity of
conduct.” And so, in one of his madrigals, says Michel Angelo. “They
are but gross spirits who seek in sensual nature the beauty that
uplifts and moves every healthy intelligence even to heaven.”

For the most part he walked alone and avoided society, wrapped up in
his own thoughts; and once, when meeting Raffaelle, he reproached him
for being surrounded by a _cortège_ of flatterers; to which Raffaelle
bitterly retorted, “And you go alone, like the headsman”—_andate solo
come un boia_.

He was essentially original, and, unlike his great rival, followed
in no one’s footsteps. “Chi va dietro agli altri non li passa mai
dinanzi,” he said,—who follows behind others can never pass before
them.

Yet, with all his ruggedness and imperiousness of character, he had
a deep tenderness of nature, and was ready to meet any sacrifice for
those whom he loved. Personal privations he cared little for, and sent
to his family all his earnings, save what was absolutely necessary to
support life. He had no greed for wealth, no love of display, no desire
for luxuries: a better son never lived, and his unworthy brother he
forgave over and over again, never weary of endeavoring to set him on
his right path.

But at times he broke forth with a tremendous energy when pushed too
far, as witness this letter to his brother. After saying, “If thou
triest to do well, and to honor and revere thy father, I will aid thee
like the others, and will provide for thee in good time a place of
business,” he thus breaks out in his postscript:—

    “I have not wandered about all Italy, and borne every
    mortification, suffered hardship, lacerated my body with hard
    labor, and placed my life in a thousand dangers, except to aid
    my family; and now that I have begun to raise it somewhat, thou
    alone art the one to embroil and ruin in an hour that which I
    have labored so long to accomplish. By the body of Christ, but it
    shall be found true that I shall confound ten thousand such as
    thou art if it be needful,—so be wise, and tempt not one who has
    already too much to bear.”

He was generous and large in his charities. He supported out of his
purse many poor persons, married and endowed secretly a number of
young girls, and gave freely to all who surrounded him. “When I die,”
asked he of his old and faithful servant Urbino, “what will become
of you?” “I shall seek for another master in order to live,” was the
answer. “Ah, poor man!” cried Michel Angelo, and gave him at once
10,000 golden crowns. When this poor servant fell ill, he tended him
with the utmost care, as if he were a brother, and on his death broke
out into loud lamentations, and would not be comforted.

His fiery and impetuous temper, however, led him often into violence.
He was no respecter of persons, and he well knew how to stand up for
the rights of man. There was nothing of the courtier in him; and he
faced the Pope with an audacious firmness of purpose and expression
unparalleled at that time; and yet he was singularly patient and
enduring, and gave way to the variable Pontiff’s whims and caprices
whenever they did not touch his dignity as a man. Long periods of time
he allowed himself to be employed in superintending the quarrying of
marble at Carrara, though his brain was teeming with great conceptions.
He was oppressed, agitated, irritated on every side by home troubles,
by papal caprices, and by the intestine tumult of his country, and much
of his life was wasted in merely mechanical work which any inferior
man could as well have done. He was forced not only to quarry, but to
do almost all the rude blocking out of his statues in marble, which
should have been intrusted to others, and which would have been better
done by mere mechanical workmen. His very impetuosity, his very genius,
unfitted him for such work: while he should have been creating and
designing, he was doing the rough work of a stone-cutter. So ardent was
his nature, so burning his enthusiasm, that he could not fitly do this
work. He was too impatient to get to the form within to take heed of
the blows he struck at the shapeless mass that encumbered it, and thus
it happened that he often ruined his statue by striking away what could
never be replaced.

Vigenero thus describes him:—

    “I have seen Michel Angelo, although sixty years of age, and
    not one of the most robust of men, smite down more scales from
    a very hard block of marble in a quarter of an hour, than three
    young marble-cutters would in three or four times that space of
    time. He flung himself upon the marble with such impetuosity
    and fervor, as to induce me to believe that he would break the
    work into fragments. With a single blow he brought down scales
    of marble of three or four fingers in breadth, and with such
    precision to the line marked on the marble, that if he had broken
    away a very little more, he risked the ruin of the work.”

This is pitiable. This was not the work for a great genius like him,
but for a common stone-cutter. What waste of time and energy to no
purpose,—nay, to worse than no purpose,—to the danger, often the
irreparable injury, of the statue. A dull, plodding, patient workman
would have done it far better. It is as if an architect should be
employed in planing the beams or laying the bricks and stones of the
building he designed. In fact, Michel Angelo injured, and in some
cases nearly ruined, most of his statues by the very impatience of his
genius. Thus the back head of the Moses has been struck away by one of
these blows, and everywhere a careful eye detects the irreparable blow
beyond its true limit. This is not the Michel Angelo whom we are to
reverence and admire; this is an _abbozzatore_ roughing out the work.
There is no difficulty in striking off large cleavings of marble at one
stroke—any one can do that; and it is pitiable to find him so engaged.

Where we do find his technical excellence as a sculptor is when he
comes to the surface—when with the drill he draws the outline with such
force and wonderful precision—when his tooth-chisel models out, with
such pure sense of form and such accomplished knowledge, the subtle
anatomies of the body and the living curves of the palpitant flesh;
and no sculptor can examine the colossal figures of the Medici Chapel
without feeling the free and mighty touch of a great master of the
marble. Here the hand and the mind work together, and the stone is
plastic as clay to his power.

It was not until Michel Angelo was sixty years of age that, on the
death of Antonio San Gallo, he was appointed to succeed him as
architect, and to design and carry out the building of St. Peter’s,
then only rising from its foundations. To this appointment he
answered, as he had before objected when commissioned to paint the
Sistine Chapel, “Architecture is not my art.” But his objections were
overruled. The Pope insisted, and he was finally prevailed upon to
accept this commission, on the noble condition that his services should
be gratuitous, and dedicated to the glory of God and of His Apostle,
St. Peter; and to this he was actuated, not only by a grand sentiment,
but because he was aware that hitherto the work had been conducted
dishonestly, and with a sole view of greed and gain. Receiving nothing
himself, he could the more easily suppress all peculation on the part
of others.

He was, as he said, an old man in years, but in energy and power he
had gained rather than lost, and he set himself at once to work,
and designed that grand basilica which has been the admiration of
centuries, and to swing, as he said, in air the Pantheon. That mighty
dome is but the architectural brother of the great statues in the
Medicean Chapel, and the Titan frescoes of the Sistine Chapel. Granted
all the defects of this splendid basilica, all the objections of all
the critics, well or ill founded, and all the deformities grafted on it
by his successors—there it is, one of the noblest and grandest of all
temples to the Deity, and one of the most beautiful. The dome itself,
within and without, is a marvel of beauty and grandeur, to which all
other domes, even that of Brunelleschi, must yield precedence. It is
the uplifted brow and forehead that holds the brain of papal Rome,
calm, and without a frown, silent, majestic, impressive. The church
within has its own atmosphere, which scarcely knows the seasons
without; and when the pageant and the pomp of the Catholic hierarchy
passes along its nave, and the sunlight builds its golden slanting
bridge of light from the lantern to the high altar, and the fumes of
incense rise from the clinking censer at High Mass, and the solemn
thrill of the silver trumpets sounds and swells and reverberates
through the dim mosaicked dome where the saints are pictured above,
cold must be his heart and dull his sense who is not touched to
reverence. Here is the type of the universal Church—free and beautiful,
large and loving; not grim and sombre and sad, like the northern
Gothic cathedrals. We grieve over all the bad taste of its interior
decoration, all the giant and awkward statues, all the lamentable
details, for which he is not responsible; but still, despite them all,
the impression is great. When at twilight the shadows obscure all
these trivialities, when the lofty cross above the altar rays forth
its single illumination and the tasteless details disappear, and the
towering arches rise unbroken with their solemn gulfs of darkness,
one can feel how great, how astonishing this church is, in its broad
architectural features.

At nearly this time Michel Angelo designed the Palazzo Farnese,
the Church of Sta Maria degli Angeli in the ruins of the Baths of
Diocletian, the Laurentian Library and the palaces on the Capitol, and
various other buildings, all of which bear testimony to his power and
skill as an architect.

For St. Peter’s as it now stands Michel Angelo is not responsible. His
idea was to make all subordinate to the dome; but after his death, the
nave was prolonged by Carlo Maderno, the façade completely changed, and
the main theme of the building was thus almost obliterated from the
front. It is greatly to be regretted that his original design was not
carried out. Every change from it was an injury. The only point from
which one can get an idea of his intention is from behind or at the
side, and there its colossal character is shown.

We have thus far considered Michel Angelo as a sculptor, painter, and
architect. It remains to consider him as a poet. Nor in his poetry do
we find any difference of character from what he exhibited in his other
arts. He is rough, energetic, strong, full of high ideas, struggling
with fate, oppressed and weary with life. He has none of the sweet
numbers of Petrarca, or the lively spirit of Ariosto, or the chivalric
tones of Tasso. His verse is rude, craggy, almost disjointed at times,
and with little melody in it, but it is never feeble. It was not his
art, he might have said, with more propriety than when he thus spoke of
painting and architecture. Lofty thoughts have wrestled their way into
verse, and constrained a rhythmic form to obey them. But there is a
constant struggle for him in a form which is not plastic to his touch.
Still his poems are strong in their crabbedness, and stand like granite
rocks in the general sweet mush of Italian verse.

Such, then, was Michel Angelo,—sculptor, painter, architect, poet,
engineer, and able in all these arts. Nor would it have been possible
for him to be so great in any one of them had he not trained his mind
to all; for all the arts are but the various articulations of the
self-same power, as the fingers are of the hand, and each lends aid to
the other. Only by having all can the mind have its full grasp of art.
It is too often insisted in our days that a man to be great in one art
must devote himself exclusively to that; or if he be solicited by any
other, he must merely toy with it. Such was not the doctrine of the
artists of old, either in ancient days of Greece or at the epoch of the
Renaissance. Phidias was a painter and architect as well as a sculptor,
and so were nearly all the men of his time. Giotto, Leonardo, Ghiberti,
Michel Angelo, Verrocchio, Cellini, Raffaelle,—in a word, all the great
men of the glorious age in Italy were accomplished in many arts. They
more or less trained themselves in all. It might be said that not a
single great man was not versed in more than one art. Thence it was
that they derived their power. It does not suffice that the arm alone
is strong; the whole body strikes with every blow.

The frescoes in the Sistine Chapel at Rome, and the statues in the
Medicean Chapel at Florence, are the greatest monuments of Michel
Angelo’s power as an artist. Whatever may be the defects of these great
works, they are of a Titanic brood, that have left no successors,
as they had no progenitors. They defy criticism, however just, and
stand by themselves outside the beaten track of art, to challenge
our admiration. So also, despite all his faults and defects, how
grand a figure Michel Angelo himself is in history, how high a
place he holds! His name itself is a power. He is one of the mighty
masters that the world cannot forget. Kings and emperors die and are
forgotten,—dynasties change and governments fall,—but he, the silent,
stern worker, reigns unmoved in the great realm of art.

Let us leave this great presence, and pass into the other splendid
chapel of the Medici which adjoins this, and mark the contrast, and see
what came of some of the titular monarchs of his time who fretted their
brief hour across the stage, and wore their purple, and issued their
edicts, and were fawned upon and flattered in their pride of ephemeral
power.

Passing across a corridor, you enter this domed chapel or mausoleum—and
a splendid mausoleum it is. Its shape is octagonal. It is 63 metres in
height, or about 200 feet, and is lined throughout with the richest
marbles—of jasper, coralline, persicata, chalcedony, mother-of-pearl,
agate, giallo and verde antico, porphyry, lapis-lazuli, onyx, oriental
alabaster, and beautiful petrified woods; and its cost was no less than
thirty-two millions of francs of to-day. Here were to lie the bodies
of the Medici family, in honor of whom it was raised. On each of the
eight sides is a vast arch, and inside six of these are six immense
sarcophagi, four of red Egyptian granite and two of gray, with the
arms of the family elaborately carved upon them, and surmounted with
coronets adorned with precious gems. In two of the arches are colossal
portrait statues,—one of Ferdinand III. in golden bronze, by Pietro
Tacca; and the other of Cosimo II. in brown bronze, by John of Bologna,
and both in the richest royal robes. The sarcophagi have the names of
Ferdinand II., Cosimo III., Francesco I., Cosimo I. All that wealth and
taste can do has been done to celebrate and perpetuate the memory of
these royal dukes that reigned over Florence in its prosperous days.

And where are the bodies of these royal dukes? Here comes the saddest
of stories. When the early bodies were first buried I know not; but in
1791 Ferdinand III. gathered together all the coffins in which they
were laid, and had them piled together pell-mell in the subterranean
vaults of this chapel, scarcely taking heed to distinguish them one
from another; and here they remained, neglected and uncared for, and
only protected from plunder by two wooden doors with common keys,
until 1857. Then shame came over those who had the custody of the
place, and it was determined to put them in order. In 1818 there had
been a rumor that these Medicean coffins had been violated and robbed
of all the articles of value which they contained. But little heed was
paid to this rumor, and it was not until thirty-nine years after that
an examination into the real facts was made. It was then discovered
that the rumor was well founded. The forty-nine coffins containing the
remains of the family were taken down one by one, and a sad state of
things was exposed. Some of them had been broken into and plundered,
some were the hiding-places of vermin, and such was the nauseous odor
they gave forth, that at least one of the persons employed in taking
them down lost his life by inhaling it. Imperial Cæsar, dead and turned
to clay, had become hideous and noisome. Of many of the ducal family
nothing remained but fragments of bones and a handful of dust. But
where the hand of the robber had not been, the splendid dresses covered
with jewels, the silks and satins wrought over with gold embroidery,
the richly chased helmets and swords crusted with gems and gold, still
survived, though those who had worn them in their splendid pageants
were but dust and crumbling bones within them.

   “Here were sands, ignoble things,
    Dropped from the ruined sides of kings.”

In many cases, where all else that bore the impress of life had
vanished, the hair still remained almost as fresh as ever. Some bodies
which had been carefully embalmed were in fair preservation, but
some were fearfully altered. Ghastly and grinning skulls were there,
adorned with crowns of gold. Dark and parchment-like faces were seen
with their golden locks rich as ever, and twisted with gems and pearls
and costly nets. The Cardinal Princes still wore their mitres and
red cloaks, their purple pianete and glittering rings, their crosses
of white enamel, their jacinths and amethysts and sapphires—all had
survived their priestly selves. The dried bones of Vittoria della
Rovere Montefeltro (whose very name is poetic) were draped in a robe
of black silk of exquisite texture, trimmed with black and white lace,
while on her breast lay a great golden medal, and on one side were her
emblems and on the other her portrait as she was in life, as if to
say, “Look on this picture and on this.” Alas, poor humanity! Beside
her lay, almost a mere skeleton, Anna Luisa, the Electress Palatine
of the Rhine, and daughter of Cosimo III., with the electoral crown
surmounting her ghastly brow and face of black parchment, a crucifix of
silver on her breast, and at her side a medal with her effigy and name;
while near her lay her uncle, Francesco Maria, a mere mass of dust and
robes and rags. Many had been stripped by profane hands of all their
jewels and insignia, and among these were Cosimo I. and II., Eleonora
de Toledo, Maria Christina, and others, to the number of twenty. The
two bodies which were found in the best preservation were those of the
Grand Duchess Giovanna d’Austria, the wife of Francesco I., and their
daughter Anna. Corruption had scarcely touched them, and there they lay
fresh in color as if they had just died—the mother in her red satin,
trimmed with lace, her red silk stockings and high-heeled shoes, the
ear-rings hanging from her ears, and her blond hair fresh as ever. And
so, after centuries had passed, the truth became evident of the rumor
that ran through Florence at the time of their death, that they had
died of poison. The arsenic which had taken from them their life had
preserved their bodies in death. Giovanni delle Bande Nere was also
here, his battles all over, his bones scattered and loose within his
iron armor, and his rusted helmet with its visor down. And this was
all that was left of the great Medici. Is there any lesson sadder than
this? These royal persons, once so gay and proud and powerful, some
of whom patronized Michel Angelo, and extended to him their gracious
favor, and honored him perhaps with a smile, now so utterly dethroned
by death, their names scarcely known, or, if known, not reverenced,
while the poor stern artist they looked down upon sits like a monarch
on the throne of fame, and, though dead, rules with his spirit and by
his works in the august realm of art. Who has not heard his name? Who
has not felt his influence? And ages shall come, and generations shall
pass, and he will keep his kingdom.



PHIDIAS, AND THE ELGIN MARBLES.


The marble statues in the pediment of the Parthenon at Athens, as
well as the metopes and _bassi-relievi_ which adorned the temple
dedicated to Minerva, are popularly supposed to have been either the
work of Phidias himself, or executed by his scholars after his designs
and under his superintendence. This opinion, by dint of constant
repetition, has finally become accepted as an undoubted fact; but a
careful examination into the original authorities will show that it is
unsupported by any satisfactory evidence.

The main ground upon which it is founded is that Phidias was appointed
by Pericles director of the public works at Athens, and occupied that
office during the building of the Parthenon. From being the director
he is supposed to have been the designer at least, not only of the
temple, but of all the works of art contained in it. This deduction
is certainly very broad to be drawn from so small a fact, even if
that fact should be established beyond doubt. It resembles the modern
instance of the popular attribution of so many nameless statues of
the Renaissance to Michel Angelo. And there seems to be about as much
reason to suppose that Phidias executed or designed all the sculpture
of the Parthenon, because he was the general superintendent of public
works at Athens, as to attribute to Michel Angelo the authorship of all
the statues in St. Peter’s, because he was mainly the architect and
superintendent of the work of that great Christian temple.

The first fact to be opposed to this entirely gratuitous assumption is,
that during the execution of the great public works at Athens under the
administration of Pericles, Phidias himself was occupied on his great
chryselephantine statue of Athena, which was the chief ornament of the
Parthenon; and this alone, without considering the other great statues
in ivory, and gold, and bronze, on which he was probably engaged at or
near the same period, was amply sufficient to occupy his entire time
and thoughts.

The next most important fact is that no ancient contemporary author
asserts that any of the sculptures of the Parthenon, with the exception
of the chryselephantine statue of Athena, were executed by him; and
considering his fame in his own and subsequent ages, it seems most
improbable, to say the least, that, had he been the author of any of
the other statues and _alti_ or _bassi-relievi_, not only no mention of
this fact, but no allusion to it, should ever have been made.

In the next place, it will be found, on careful examination of the
ancient writers and of other facts bearing on the question, to be
exceedingly doubtful whether Phidias ever made any statues in marble.
If he did execute any works in this material, they were exceptions to
his general practice, his art being chiefly in toreutic work, and in
gold and ivory, or bronze. It was in these arts that he established his
fame; and there is no mention of any work by him in marble within five
hundred years of his death.

Plutarch, in his Life of Pericles, says that “Phidias was appointed
by Pericles superintendent of all the public edifices, though the
Athenians had other eminent architects, and excellent workmen.” It
is plain, however, that even if Phidias was director of the works,
Plutarch does not mean to represent him as the architect or artist by
whom they were either designed or executed; for he immediately adds
that “the Parthenon was built by Callicrates and Ictinus.” Probably
also Carpion was another architect actively engaged upon it, for he and
Ictinus wrote a work upon it. Plutarch then goes on to enumerate other
buildings built by different artists at this very period during which
Phidias was director of public works. Afterwards he positively states
that “the golden statue of Minerva was the workmanship of Phidias,
and his name is inscribed on the pedestal;”[1] and adds that, “as we
have already observed, through the friendship of Pericles, he had the
direction of everything, and all the artists received his orders.”
But he does not say or intimate that Phidias himself made anything
in the Parthenon except the statue of Athena, unless “having the
direction of everything” is to be understood as equivalent to making
everything himself. Such an interpretation is, however, absolutely
in contradiction with his statements that the Parthenon was built by
Callicrates and Ictinus; that the Temple of Initiation at Eleusis was
begun by Corœbus, carried on by Metagenes, and finished by Xenocles
of Cholargos; that the vestibule of the Citadel was finished in five
years by Mnesicles; and that the Odeum was built under the direction of
Pericles, by which he incurred much ridicule.

Strabo, however, would seem to differ from Plutarch on this point,
and to attribute to Pericles himself, and not to Phidias, the general
superintendence of the public works. Speaking of the Temple of the
Eleusinian Ceres at Eleusis, and the mystic inclosure, Σηκός, built by
Ictinus, he adds, “This person it was who made the Parthenon in the
Acropolis in honor of Minerva, when Pericles was superintendent of
the public works;” and in another passage he mentions “the Parthenon
built by Ictinus, in which is the Minerva in ivory, the work of
Phidias,”—thus clearly distinguishing the work of Phidias, and saying
not a word about the metopes, _bassi-relievi_, or statues in the
pediment, or indicating him as their author.

But granting that Plutarch is right, it is quite manifest that
it was impossible for Phidias to have had more than an official
superintendence of these great works. The sole administration of public
affairs was conferred on Pericles in B. C. 444, and it was not until
then or subsequently that Phidias could have been appointed to this
office. Among the public works built at this period were the Propylæa,
the Odeum, the Parthenon, the Temples of Ceres at Eleusis, of Juno at
Argos, of Apollo at Phigaleia, and of Zeus at Olympia—the last being
finished in B. C. 433. Within these eleven years, therefore, Phidias is
supposed to have superintended all or a portion of these temples, with
their manifold sculptures and statues, and, in addition, to have made
the colossal chryselephantine statues of Athena in the Parthenon, Zeus
at Olympia, Aphrodite Urania at Elis, and also, perhaps, the Athena
Areia in bronze at Platæa.

But excluding all consideration as to the other temples, and confining
ourselves solely to the Parthenon, let us see if it be possible, with
all his occupations, for him to have executed the Athena alone, and
also executed or even designed the other sculptures of the Parthenon.

In the tympanum there are 44 statues, all of heroic size. There were 92
metopes representing the battles of the Centaurs and Lapithæ, and the
frieze, which was covered with elaborate _bassi-relievi_ representing
processions of men, women, and horses with riders, was about 524 feet
in length.

There seems to be no distinct statement of the exact time when the
Parthenon was begun; but it certainly was after the appointment of
Pericles in 444 B. C., and we know that it was finished and dedicated
in 438 B. C. This gives us six years as the outside possible limits
within which it was built. Now, if Phidias made, executed, or even
modeled or designed, only the 44 statues of the tympanum within this
period, he must have been a man of astonishing activity and rapidity in
his work. To do this he must have made more than seven heroic statues
in each year, or more than one statue every two months for six years.
This may safely be said to be impossible, unless we mean by the term
designing the making of small sketches in clay or terra cotta, with
little elaboration or finish. But if we add the 92 metopes and the
524 feet of figures in relief, the mere designing in clay of all the
figures and groups becomes impossible.

But this is not enough: we know that he executed in this time the
colossal chryselephantine statue of Athena,—and to the other statues,
therefore, he could only have given the overplus of his time which
was not needed for his great work. Nor are we without data by which
we can estimate the probable time given to the Athena alone. At Elis
he was engaged exclusively from four to five years upon the Zeus, in
the temple at Olympia; and in the execution of this colossal work we
know that he had the assistance of other artists, and especially of
Kolotes; and we also know that he did nothing else in this temple,
the statues in the two tympana having been executed by Alcamenes
and Pæonios. In all probability about the same amount of time was
given to the Athena. Supposing, then, that he began his work on the
Parthenon immediately after the appointment of Pericles, which is most
improbable, he would have had about a year’s time in which to make all
the statues and reliefs in the Parthenon, and exercise supervision
of the public works. If he modeled the designs only of the tympana
in this period, he must have made a statue in eight days. If he also
modeled the designs of the metopes, 92 in number, of two figures each,
he must have given less than three days to each, without allowing any
time for the performance of his functions of general director, and
supposing him also to have worked without a day’s intermission. Such
suppositions must be rejected as approaching so near to impossibilities
as to render them utterly untenable. All probabilities are in favor
of the supposition that, during the period in which the Parthenon was
constructed, Phidias was employed solely upon the statue of Athena, and
upon the duties incident to his position as superintendent of public
works.

This conclusion will seem all the more probable when we consider that
Phidias, far from being rapid in his execution, was, on the contrary,
a slow and elaborate worker, devoting much time to the careful and
minute finish of his statues. Themistius is reported by Plutarch as
saying of him, that “though Phidias was skillful enough to make in gold
or ivory” (it will be observed that he speaks of his work in no other
materials) “the true shape of god or man, yet he did require abundance
of time and leisure to his work; so he is reported to have spent much
time upon the base and sandals of his statue of the goddess Athena.”[2]

We must also add another consideration, and it is this: that in the
time of Phidias it was necessary for a sculptor to do far more with
his own hand than it is now. Modern facilities have greatly abridged
the personal labor of the sculptor in marble or bronze. The present
method of casting in plaster, which was then unknown, or at least
unpracticed, enables the sculptor of our days to elaborate his work
to the utmost finish, in its full size, in the clay model; and when
this is completed and cast in such a permanent material as plaster,
the workman has an absolute model, which he may, to a certain extent,
copy with almost mathematical accuracy. The greater portion of the
work may therefore be now committed to inferior hands, as it requires
only mechanical dexterity and care; while it merely remains for the
sculptor himself to finish the work in marble, and add such elaboration
of detail and expression as he may desire. But in the time of Phidias
this method was unknown; and the sculptor himself was forced to do a
much greater part of his work in marble. In like manner, the modern
method of casting in bronze is so admirable that the labor of the
artist in finishing the cast is comparatively small; but in the earlier
period of bronze casting, there is no doubt that the cast originally
was far more imperfect, and the labor of the sculptor in finishing
far greater. These facts will in some measure seem to account for the
comparatively long time during which Phidias was engaged on his works.
As there evidently was no full-sized and completely finished model of
the Athena or Zeus for the workmen mechanically to copy, Phidias was
forced to work out the details of his great works with his own hands,
moulding and designing them as he went on; and this he was obliged to
do, not in a plastic material like clay, but in the final material of
his statue—whether gold, ivory, or bronze. Assistants of course he had,
and undoubtedly they were very numerous. Plutarch tells us that the
public works gave employment to carpenters, modelers, brass cutters
and stampers, chiselers and engravers, dyers, workers of ivory and
gold, and even weavers;[3] and some of these men certainly worked for
Phidias. In fact, he used the hands of others as much as he could—as
any sensible artist would; but a great part of his invention and work
was carried on in hard and difficult materials, instead of being
perfected in a facile clay, as it would be by a modern sculptor; and
this carried with it, of course, a great expense of time and labor.

With these facts in view, and considering the great size and
elaboration of the ivory and gold statue of Athena, it is quite
evident that the few years which elapsed between the commencement of
the Parthenon and its dedication would have been amply occupied by
this work alone,—and with the other duties incident to his position
as superintendent of public works. More than this, we shall find it
difficult to fix the time when he made some other of his statues,
unless it was during these six years; and it would seem probable that
at or about this time he must have been engaged upon the Athena Areia
for the Platæans, or at least upon his chryselephantine statue of the
celestial Venus for the Eleans.

Before proceeding farther in this argument, it may be as well to
give a glance at the artistic career of Phidias, and the various
works executed by him, or assigned to him by different writers of an
after-age.

A good deal of discussion has arisen as to the age of Phidias at his
death. The date of his birth is distinctly given by no one, and is
purely a matter of conjecture. Thiersch, among others, supposes him to
have been already an artist of some distinction in the 72·3 Olympiad,
or about B. C. 490—the date of the battle of Marathon; and this opinion
he founds chiefly on the fact that the Athena Promachos, as well as
the group of statues at Delphi and the acrolith of Athena at Platæa
made by him, were cast, according to Pausanias, from the tithe of the
spoils taken from the Medes who disembarked at Marathon. Other writers
suppose him to have been born at about the date of the battle of
Marathon, and that the statues executed by him out of the spoils were
made some twenty-five years later. Mr. Philip Smith, in his “Dictionary
of Biography and Mythology,” taking this view, places his birth in the
73d Olympiad; and Müller is of the same opinion. Dr. Brunn, on the
contrary, thinks it probable that he was born about the 70th Olympiad,
and Welcker and Preller agree substantially with him.

According to the supposition of Thiersch, placing his birth at 67·2
Olympiad, or B. C. 510, he would have been twenty years of age at
the battle of Marathon (B. C. 490), seventy-two years of age when he
finished the chryselephantine statue of Athena in the Parthenon in 85·1
Olympiad (B. C. 438), and seventy-seven years of age when he finished
the chryselephantine statue of Zeus at Olympia in 87·3 Olympiad (B. C.
433). This, if we suppose that five years elapsed after the battle of
Marathon before the group of statues at Delphi was executed, would
make Phidias twenty-five years old when he made them.

Taking the supposition that he was born in the 72·3 Olympiad, and that
the statues at Delphi were modeled twenty-five years after, this would
make him also twenty-five years of age when he executed them; and
fifty-two years of age, instead of seventy-two, when he finished the
Athena of the Parthenon; and fifty-seven, instead of seventy-seven,
when he completed the Zeus—shortly previous to his death.

Dr. Brunn’s supposition that he was born in the 70th Olympiad, which is
also held by Welcker and Preller, would make him fifty-six when he made
the Athena, and sixty-one when he made the Zeus.

In opposition to these two later suppositions, there is this one
undisputed fact, that on the shield of the Athena of the Parthenon
he introduced his own likeness as well as that of Pericles, in which
he is described as representing himself as a bald old man (πρεσβύτου
φαλακρός) hurling a stone, which he lifts with both hands, while
Pericles is portrayed as a vigorous warrior in the full prime of
manhood. He must therefore have intended to represent himself as a much
older man than Pericles; and Pericles at this time was over fifty-two
years of age[4]—which is the age assigned to Phidias himself by some
writers. Besides, a man of fifty-two, or even of fifty-six, could
scarcely be accurately described as an “old man;” and an artist making
a portrait of himself at that age would be inclined to give himself
a little more youth than he really possessed. The mere fact that he
represents himself as old shows that he had in all probability arrived
at a more advanced period of life, when one accepts old age as too
notorious and well-established a fact to be disguised. The supposition
of Thiersch, therefore, would, in view of this fact alone, seem to be
the best founded, as this would make him seventy-two years old when the
Athena was completed,—an age which might fairly be called old.

Mr. Smith seems to think it very improbable that at the age of
eighty-three Phidias could have undertaken to execute the Zeus; but the
fact is, that Thiersch’s conjecture would only make him seventy-three
when the Zeus was begun, and certainly at this age it is by no means
uncommon for sculptors to undertake large works. Tenerani, for
instance, in our own time, had passed that age when he executed the
monument of Pius VIII., one of his largest works, and consisting of
four colossal figures. Besides, it is to be taken into account that
the Zeus was the last work of Phidias, and that death overtook him
immediately after.

On the whole, it would seem that the probabilities of the period of his
birth lie between the middle of the 67th Olympiad (B. C. 510) and the
beginning of the 70th Olympiad (B. C. 500).

There is also another consideration which is entitled to weight in
this connection. Suppose Phidias to have commenced his artistic career
four years after the battle of Marathon—in B. C. 490 (Olymp. 72·3).
From that time to B. C. 444 (Olymp. 83·4), when he began the Athena
of the Parthenon, there are forty-five years; and during this time
he is supposed to have executed six colossal statues in bronze or
acrolith,—two of which, the Athena Promachos and the Athena Areia, were
from 50 to 60 feet in height—and one, the Athena Lemnia, was considered
as perhaps his most beautiful work. Besides this, he executed thirteen
statues at Delphi, the size of which is not stated. Nineteen statues
in forty-five years give a little over 2⅓ years to each; and if the
thirteen statues at Delphi were colossal, this will certainly seem
insufficient for their execution, when we keep in mind the facts—1st,
That Phidias was a slow and elaborate worker; 2d, That of necessity he
must have done a great part of the work in bronze personally; 3d, That
he was occupied four years on the Zeus alone; 4th, That two of these
statues, at least, were larger than the Athena of the Parthenon, though
not in the same material. It is, however, probable, that the thirteen
statues at Delphi were not of colossal proportions, but rather of
heroic size, and therefore requiring less time in their execution; and
this would enable us to assign a longer time to the mighty colossi of
Athena.

Certainly, however, if we accept the theory that Phidias commenced
working twenty-five years after the battle of Marathon, we are in very
great straits as to time, unless the date when these colossal statues
were made be incorrect, and unless some of them were made after the
Athena of the Parthenon. This, again, we cannot accept; for, from the
date of the completion of the Athena of the Parthenon until his death,
there are only at most some seven years, four of which were dedicated
to the Zeus. We are then forced to believe that these nineteen statues
were made in twenty years; and this is certainly very improbable.

In this view other difficulties also appear, which it would seem
impossible to overcome, if we accept all the statues attributed to
Phidias as having been executed by him; for in such case, not only must
he have made these nineteen statues in twenty years, but some fifteen
more at least. Taking, then, the longest supposition as to his age, and
giving him forty-five years of labor for some thirty-five statues, the
time will altogether be too restricted. It may be as well at this point
of the discussion to give a catalogue of the works which he is supposed
to have executed, and to examine into the probable authenticity of some
of them. The list is as follows:—

1. The Athena, at Pellene, in Achaia. This was probably his first
great work, if we credit Pausanias, who says it was made before the
Athena of the Acropolis and the Athena at Platæa. “They say,” says
Pausanias, “that this statue was made by Phidias, and before he made
that for the Athenians, which is in their town, or that which is among
the Platæans.”

2–14. Thirteen statues in bronze, made from the spoils of the Persian
war, and dedicated at Delphi as a votive offering by the Athenians,
representing Athena, Apollo, Miltiades, Erechtheus, Cecrops, Pandion,
Peleus, Antiochus, Ægeus, Acamas, Codrus, Theseus, and Phyleus. “All
these statues,” says Pausanias, “were made by Phidias;” and on his sole
authority the statement stands. He does not mention their size.

15. The colossal Athena Promachos in bronze in the Acropolis. This
statue, which was from 50 to 60 feet in height, was made from the
spoils of Marathon. It represented the goddess holding up her spear and
shield in the attitude of a combatant, and was visible to approaching
vessels as far off as Sunium. “On the shield,” says Pausanias, “the
battle of the Centaurs and Lapithæ was carved by Mys; but Parrhasius,
the son of Evenor, painted this for Mys, and likewise the other figures
that are seen on the shield.” Pausanias, however, must be mistaken in
this, since Parrhasius lived about Olymp. 95 (B. C. 400), or about
thirty years after the death of Phidias; and it would scarcely be
probable that this shield would have remained uncarved and unpainted
for from seventy to eighty years after the statue was executed.

16. The Athena Areia, at Platæa. This was an acrolith, also made from
the spoils of Marathon. “This statue,” says Pausanias, “is made of
wood, and is gilt, except the face and the extremities of the hands and
feet, which are of Pentelic marble. Its magnitude is nearly equal to
that of the Minerva, which the Athenians dedicated on their tower” (the
Promachos). “Phidias too made this statue for the Platæenses.”

17. The Athena in bronze, in the Acropolis, called the Lemnia, which,
according to Pausanias, “deserves to be seen above all the works of
Phidias.” Lucian also speaks specially of its beauty.

18. The Athena mentioned by Pliny as having been dedicated at Rome,
near the Temple of Fortune, by Paulus Æmilius. But whether this
originally stood in the Acropolis is unknown. Possibly or probably it
was the same statue as that last mentioned.

19. The Cliduchus (Key-Bearer), also mentioned by Pliny, may have been
an Athena; but more probably it represented a priestess holding the
keys, symbolic of initiation into the mysteries.

20. The Athena of the Parthenon, in ivory and gold.

21. The Zeus at Olympia, in ivory and gold.

22. The Aphrodite Urania, in ivory and gold, at Elis. This statue,
attributed by Pausanias to Phidias, “stands with one of its feet on a
tortoise.”

23. A bronze figure of Apollo Parnopius, in the Acropolis. The
authority for this statue is Pausanias, who states that “it is said to
be the work of Phidias,”—λέγουσι Φειδίαν ποιῆσαι. Tradition alone gives
it to Phidias.

24. Aphrodite Urania, _in marble_, in the temple near the Ceramicus.
This also is attributed by Pausanias to Phidias.

25. A statue of the Mother of the Gods, sitting on a throne, supported
by lions, in the Metroum near the Ceramicus. This is attributed by
Pausanias and Arrian to Phidias. Pliny, on the contrary, says it is by
Agoracritos.

26. The Golden Throne, so called, and supposed generally to be that of
the Athena. What this was is very dubious. It could not be the throne
of the Athena, for she had no throne, and probably was another name for
the Athena herself. Plutarch calls it “τῆς θεοῦ τὸ χρυσοῦν ἕδος,” and
Isocrates, “τὸ τῆς Ἀθηνὰς ἕδος.”

27. Statue of Athena, at Elis, in ivory and gold. Pausanias says it is
attributed to Phidias,—“φασὶν Φείδιου,”—_they say_ it is by Phidias.
Pliny, however, says it was executed by Kolotes.

28. Statue of Æsculapius, at Epidaurus. This is attributed to Phidias
by Athenagoras (Legat. pro Arist.); but by Pausanias to Thrasymedes of
Paros.

29. At the entrance of the Ismenion, near Thebes, are two _marble_
statues called Pronaoi—one of Athena, ascribed by Pausanias to Scopas,
and one of Hermes, ascribed by Pausanias to Phidias.

30. A Zeus, at the Olympieum at Megara. The head of this statue was
made of gold and ivory, the rest of clay and gypsum. “This work _is
said_ (λέγουσι) to have been made by Theocosmos, a citizen of Megara,
with the assistance of Phidias,” says Pausanias, and it was interrupted
by the breaking out of the Peloponnesian war. Probably it was executed
solely by Theocosmos.

31. The statue of Nemesis, at Rhamnus, _in marble_, attributed to
Phidias by Pausanias; but there can be little question that it was made
by Agoracritos.

32. The Amazon. This statue, which is highly praised by Lucian, was,
according to Pliny, made by Phidias in competition with Polyclitus,
Ctesilaus, Cydon, and Phradmon; the first prize being given to
Polyclitus, the second to Phidias, the third to Ctesilaus, and the
fourth to Cydon.

33, 34, 35. Three bronze statues mentioned by Pliny, the subjects not
stated, and placed by Catulus in the Temple of Fortune.

36. The marble Venus in the portico of Octavia, which Pliny says “is
said to be by Phidias.”

37. The Horse-Tamer, in marble, now existing, and standing before the
Quirinal in Rome.

There are some other statues attributed to Phidias by various writers,
which may be at once rejected. Among them were the statues of Zeus and
Apollo at Patara, in Lycia, which were supposed by Clemens Alexandrinus
to have been by Phidias, but which are clearly settled to have been
by Bryaxis. So also the Kairos, or Opportunity, by Lysippus, was
attributed to Phidias by Ausonius; and the famous Venus of the Gardens
(ἐν κήποις), by Alcamenes, was said to have received its finishing
touches from him.

It will, I think, be clear that many of the statues in the foregoing
list must also be rejected. In the last ten years of his life he
executed only two statues, each colossal—the Athena of the Parthenon,
and the Zeus at Olympia. Taking the earliest date of his artistic
career at five years before the battle of Marathon, according to the
theory of Thiersch, he would, as we have seen, have had forty-five
years only in which to execute the other thirty-five statues, besides
all the other and minute work to which, as we shall see, he gave his
genius. Several, at least, of these statues are colossal, several
elaborately wrought in ivory and gold; and it is in the highest degree
improbable that they could have been executed in this period of time.

On examination of the list, three at least will be seen to rest purely
on tradition. The Apollo Parnopius and the Athena at Elis are mentioned
by Pausanias as being “said to be” by Phidias. The Venus of the portico
of Octavia “is said to be by Phidias,” says Pliny. Little weight can
be given to current and common opinion in respect to the authorship
of works of art executed many centuries before, about which there is
no written documentary proof. In our own time it is always exceedingly
difficult, and often impossible, to decide upon the authorship of
pictures and statues of one hundred years ago. Double that period, and
the difficulty would of course be enormously increased. Now Pausanias
wrote some six hundred years after the death of Phidias, and yet we are
ready to accept as authoritative his passing statement that a certain
statue “is said” to be by Phidias. How many statues at the present day
are said to be by Michel Angelo, which he never saw! How many spurious
Raffaelles and Titians adorn our galleries! Do we not know that every
traveler in Italy sees statues “said to be” by Michel Angelo in such
numbers that ten Michel Angelos could not have made them all? There
is scarcely a church that does not boast of something from his hand.
There is no reason to suppose that the case was not similar in Greece
fifteen hundred years ago, and none to suppose that Pausanias was
superior in artistic knowledge and acumen to any average intelligent
traveler of his day. He did not stop to investigate the grounds upon
which the popular or accidental account given him as to the authorship
of any work was founded, nor does he pretend to have done so. He took
it for what it was worth. “They say the statue is by Phidias.” He had,
besides, as far as we know, no written authority for what he said,—at
least he cites none.

Again, in respect to the authorship of some of the statues of which
he speaks, he at times differs from other writers, and at times
unquestionably mistakes. Thus, to cite only examples in the case of
Phidias, the statue of Athena, at Elis, he attributes to Phidias,
while Pliny says it was by Kolotes. Again, the statue of Æsculapius,
at Epidaurus, he attributes to Thrasymedes of Paros, while Athenagoras
says it was the work of Phidias. In like manner, the statue of the
Mother of the Gods, which Pausanias and Arrian give to Phidias,
Pliny declares to be the work of Agoracritos. Still more, Pausanias
distinctly affirms that the Nemesis at Rhamnus was executed by Phidias;
while Pliny, on the contrary, asserts it to be the work of Agoracritos.
And in this assertion Pliny is borne out by Zenobius, who gives us the
inscription on the branch in the hand of Nemesis: ΑΓΟΡΑΚΡΙΤΟΣ ΠΑΡΙΟΣ
ΕΠΟΙΗΣΕΝ. Strabo, however, hesitates between Agoracritos and an unknown
Diodotos, and says it was remarkable for beauty and size, and might
well compete with the works of Phidias; and to confuse matters still
more, at a later time Pomponius Mela, Hesychius, and Solon agree with
Pausanias. There would seem, after weighing all authorities, to be
little doubt that the Nemesis was the work of Agoracritos.

Nothing could more clearly show the easy way in which traditions grow
like barnacles upon artists and works of art, than the story connected
with this statue. Pliny says that Agoracritos contended with Alcamenes
in making a statue of Venus; and the preference being given to that of
Alcamenes, he was so indignant at the decision that he immediately made
certain alterations in his own statue, called it Nemesis, and sold it
to the people of Rhamnus, on condition that it should not be set up in
Athens. This is absurd enough. After a statue of Venus is finished,
what sort of change would be required to make a Nemesis of it? But
let us see how well this statue would have represented Aphrodite.
Pausanias says that “out of the marble brought by the barbarians to
Marathon for a trophy Phidias made a statue of Nemesis, and on the
head of the goddess there is a crown adorned with stags and images
of victory of no great magnitude; and in the left hand she holds the
branch of an ash-tree, and in her right a cup, on which the Æthiopians
are carved—why, I cannot assign any reason.” Now, in the first place,
the assertion that it was a work of marble brought to make a trophy at
Marathon is a myth. In the next place, these are certainly peculiar
characteristics for an Aphrodite. The statue itself was undoubtedly
a noble statue, however, and the best work of Agoracritos. As it was
not the custom for sculptors in Greece to inscribe their names on
their statues, it may have happened that it soon came to be popularly
attributed to Phidias, according to the general rule, that to the
master is ascribed the best work of his pupil and his school. Then
it was, probably, that the inscription was placed on the statue,
reclaiming it for its true author. However this may be, Photias,
Suidas, and Tzetzes, as late as from the tenth to the twelfth century,
are determined that Phidias shall have it, despite the inscription;
and accordingly they report and publish, many long centuries after—and
gifted by what second-sight into the past who can tell?—that though
it is true that the statue is supposed to have been executed by
Agoracritos, yet in fact it was made by Phidias, who generously allowed
Agoracritos to put his name on it, and pass it off as his own.

In further illustration of this parasitic growth of legend and
tradition may be also cited in this connection the story told by
Tzetzes the Grammarian, some seventeen centuries after the death of
Phidias. According to him, Alcamenes and Phidias competed in making a
statue of Athena, to be placed in an elevated position; and when their
figures were finished and exposed to public view near the level of the
eye, the preference was decidedly given to the figure of Alcamenes; but
as soon as the figures were elevated to their destined position, the
public declared immediately in favor of that of Phidias. The object
of the writer of this story is to prove the extraordinary skill of
Phidias in optical perspective, and to show that he had calculated his
proportions with such foresight, that though the figure, when seen
near the level of the eye, appeared inharmonious, it became perfectly
harmonious when seen from far below. Now all that any artist could do
to produce this effect would be, perhaps, to give more length to his
figures in comparison with their breadth. This, however, would be not
only a doubtful expedient in itself, but entirely at variance with
the practice of Phidias. His figures, like all those of his period,
were stouter in proportion to their breadth, and particularly stouter
in the relation of the lower limbs to the torso, than the figures of
a later period. The canon of proportion accepted then was that of
Polyclitus; and the proportions were afterward varied and the lower
limbs were lengthened, first by Euphranor, and subsequently still more
by Lysippus. Any distortion or falsification of proportion would be
effective solely in a statue with one point of view, and exhibited
as a relief; for if it were a figure in the round, and seen from all
points, the perspective would be utterly false, unless the proportions
were harmonious in themselves and true to nature. Tzetzes is a great
gossip, and peculiarly untrustworthy in his statements; but his story
is of such a nature as to please the ignorant public, and it has
been accepted and repeated constantly, though he does not give any
authority for it, and plainly invented it out “of the depths of his own
consciousness,” as the German _savant_ did the camel.

One cannot be too careful in accepting traditions about artists or
their works. The public invents its facts, and believes what it
invents. Very few of the pleasing anecdotes connected with artists
will bear critical examination, any more than the famous sayings
attributed on great occasions to extraordinary men; still the grand
phrase of Cambronne is as gravely repeated in history as if it had some
foundation in fact, and everybody believes that Da Vinci died in the
arms of Francis I. Perhaps it is scarcely worth while to break up such
pleasant traditions, and certainly the public resists such attempts.
It is so delightful to think that the gallant and accomplished King
of France supported the great Italian artist, and soothed his last
moments, that it seems sheer brutality to dissipate such an illusion;
yet, unfortunately, we know that Leonardo died at Cloux, near Amboise,
on May 2, 1679,—and from a journal kept by the king, and still
(disgracefully enough) existing in the imperial library in Paris, we
know that on that very day he held his Court at St. Germain-en-Laye;
and besides this, Lomazzo distinctly tells us that the king first heard
the news of Leonardo’s death from Melzi; while Melzi himself, who wrote
to Leonardo’s friend immediately after his death, makes no mention of
such a fact.

But to return from this digression to a consideration of the list of
works attributed to Phidias. We have already seen that in regard to
six of the statues there are, to say the least, strong doubts as to
his authorship; but still more must be eliminated. The Zeus of the
Olympieum at Megara “is said,” according to Pausanias, “to have been
made by Theocosmos, with the assistance of Phidias.” This again is mere
tradition, which is so weak that it only pretends that Phidias assisted
Theocosmos. Phidias assisting Theocosmos has a strange sound; and it is
plain that Theocosmos is the real author of this statue, even granting
that the great master may have helped the lesser one.

Again, Pausanias tells us that of the two marble statues called Pronaoi
at the entrance of the Ismenion, that representing Athena was made by
Scopas, and the other of Hermes was made by Phidias. These so-called
Pronaoi were statues standing at the entrance of the building, opposite
each other, a chief decorative ornament to the façade. Is it not
strange that the statue on one side should be made by Phidias, and
the opposite pedestal remain unoccupied until the time of Scopas,
nearly a century later? Is it not plain that the temple would not have
been considered finished until both statues were placed there? And
is it probable that the Greeks would have allowed it to remain thus
incomplete for a century? Besides, does it not seem singular, in view
of the fact that Phidias was peculiarly celebrated for his statues
of Athena, while Scopas was celebrated for his heroic figures and
demigods, that the Athena should have been assigned to Scopas, and
the Hermes to Phidias? When we also add the fact that these statues
were in marble,—a material in which, as we shall presently see, Phidias
certainly worked only exceptionally, if he ever worked at all, while
Scopas was a worker in marble,—it will, I think, be pretty clear that
Pausanias is mistaken in attributing this statue of Hermes to Phidias.

Again, “The Golden Throne” must probably be considered as a name for
the Athena of the Parthenon, since there is no golden throne of which
we have any knowledge ever made by Phidias. In like manner it is most
probable that the Athena mentioned by Pliny as being in Rome near the
temple of Julian, and dedicated by Paulus Æmilius, was the Athena
Lemnia in bronze, taken from the Acropolis. These statues, which are
reckoned as four, must therefore in all probability be considered as
only two.

There remains one other statue in the list which certainly must be
struck out—the Horse-Tamer, still existing in Rome at the present day,
under the name of “Il Colosso di Monte Cavallo.” This statue, or rather
group, stands on the Quirinal Hill, and on its pedestal are inscribed
the words “Opus Phidiæ.” It is cited by Dr. Smith in his Dictionary
as a work of Phidias, and he thinks it may be the “altrum colossicon
nudum” of which Pliny speaks. But Pliny cited this “colossicon nudum”
in his chapter on bronze works; and as this is in marble, he could not
have referred to it. Independent of all other considerations, however,
there is one simple fact that makes it almost impossible that it could
have been the work of Phidias, though curiously enough this simple fact
has apparently escaped the observation of critics. It is, that the
cuirass which supports the group is a Roman cuirass and not a Greek
cuirass, such as Phidias would necessarily have made.

The legend about this group and its companion, attributed with equal
absurdity to Praxiteles, is curious. In “Roma Sacra, Antica e Moderna,”
which was published in Rome in the latter part of the sixteenth
century, and constantly reprinted for at least a hundred years, we are
told that these two statues were made, one by Phidias, and the other
by Praxiteles, in competition with each other,—that they represent
Alexander taming Bucephalus, and were brought to Rome by Tiridates,
King of Armenia, as a present to Nero,—and that they were afterwards
restored and placed in the Thermæ of Constantine, from which place
they were transported to the Quirinal, and again restored and set up
by Sixtus V., with inscriptions, stating, that they were brought by
Constantine from Greece.

The inscriptions were as follows: under the horse of the statue
professing to be by Phidias, was inscribed: “Phidias, nobilis sculptor,
ad artificii præstantiam declarandam Alexandri Bucephaalum domantis
effigiem e marmore expressit.” On the base was inscribed: “Signa
Alexandri Magni celebrisque ejus Bucephal ex antiquitatis testimonio
Phidiæ et Praxitelis emulatione hoc marmore ad vivam effigiem expressa
a Fl. Constantino Max. e Græcia advecta suisque in Thermis in hoc
Quirinali monte collocata, temporis vi deformata, laceraque ad ejusdem
Imperatoris memoriam urbisque decorem, in pristinam formam restituta
hic reponi jussit anno MDXXXIX Pont. IV.” Under the horse of Praxiteles
was inscribed: “Praxiteles sculptor ad Phidiæ emulationem sui monumenta
ingenii relinquere cupiens ejusdem Alexandri Bucephalique signa felici
contentione perficit.”

Here are a charming series of assumptions, so completely in defiance of
history that one cannot help smiling; and were not the fact accredited,
it would be difficult to believe that these inscriptions could have
been placed under these statues. Phidias died probably in B. C. 432,
Praxiteles flourished about B. C. 364, nearly a century later, and
Alexander was not born till B. C. 356. Here we have Phidias making a
group of Alexander and Bucephalus, and representing an incident which
occurred a century after his death, and in competition with Praxiteles.
Absurdity and ignorance can scarcely go further; and, as we learn
from “Roma Sacra,” it afterwards occasioned such ridicule that Urban
VIII. removed the inscriptions, and substituted the simple words,
“Opus Phidiæ” and “Opus Praxitelis” under the respective statues,
still adhering to the legend that the two groups were the work of
these great artists. The fact is that they are Roman works, and were
neither brought by Tiridates from Armenia to present to Nero, nor by
Constantine from Greece.

Of the statues attributed to Phidias we may then strike out eleven as
resting, on the face of the facts, upon no sufficient authority. We
still shall have the large number of twenty-six important statues, many
of them colossal, which are far more than sufficient to have occupied
his life, even when reckoned at its longest probable term. To this
number it would be impossible to add the marble statues contained in
the Parthenon.

Michel Angelo lived to a great age. He was throughout his life a
very hard worker, devoting all his time to art. It is true that
he was devoted to architecture and fresco-painting, as well as to
sculpture, and that to these arts he gave much time; but still he was
by profession specially a sculptor, and a large portion of his life
was given to sculpture. He was, besides, impetuous and even violent
in his marble work; and not content with the labor of the day, gave
to it a portion of his nights, working with a candle fixed in his
cap—unless, indeed, this also be a legend, into which it is better
not to inquire too anxiously. Still, in the course of his long life
he executed very few statues: of the really accredited statues of any
size, the number, I think, does not exceed fifteen—and some of these
are merely roughed out and left unfinished. The explanation of this is
undoubtedly that casting in plaster having been then just invented, and
being very imperfect in its development, he was accustomed at once to
rough out his large statues from small sketches in terra cotta, after
the probable practice of the ancients. This obliged him personally
to do with his own hand much of the hard work which now, with the
increased facilities of the art and the perfecting of plaster-casting,
can safely be left to an ordinary workman; at all events, there are
no full-sized models existing of his great works. If, then, Michel
Angelo, with twenty years more of life, and with all his energy, could
produce only some fifteen statues of heroic size,—and these, many of
them, unfinished,—it will not seem necessary to suppose that Phidias
must have executed double that number, particularly when we remember
the colossal size of many of them (from forty to sixty feet in height),
the extreme elaboration and fineness of the workmanship, and the
difficulties growing out of the materials in which they were executed.

We have already seen, by the testimony of Themistius, that Phidias
was by no means rapid in his workmanship, but, on the contrary, slow
and elaborate in his finish—just the opposite in these respects from
Michel Angelo. This testimony of Themistius is borne out by all the
ancient writers who speak of him. His style was a singular combination
of the grand and colossal in design with the most minute and careful
finish of all details. He had a peculiar grace and refinement in
his art (χάρις τῆς τέχνης), says Dion Chrysostomus, who in another
passage distinguishes him from all his predecessors by the delicate
precision of his work (κατὰ τὴν ἀκρίβειαν τῆς ποιήσεως); τὸ ἀκριβές
is also attributed to him by Demetrius, in his treatise on Elocution;
and Dionysius of Halicarnassus celebrates his art as uniting these
qualities of _finesse_ of workmanship with grandeur of design (τὸ
σεμνὸν καὶ μεγαλότεχνον καὶ ἀξιωματικόν). The minute and almost
excessive elaboration of his great works, as they are described by
ancient authors, perfectly supports this judgment. Take, for instance,
the Zeus at Olympia, or the Athena of the Parthenon—his two greatest
statues in ivory and gold. Not content with carefully finishing the
main figures, he chased and ornamented them, as well as all the
accessories in every part, with the minute elaboration of a goldsmith.
The surface of the mantle of Zeus was wrought over with living figures
and flowers. Gold and gems were inserted. Cedar, ebony, and ivory were
inlaid and overlaid, and the whole was exquisitely painted. Each leg of
the throne on which Zeus sat was supported by four Victories dancing,
and two men were in front. The two front legs were surmounted by groups
representing a Theban youth seized by a sphinx, and beneath each of
these groups were Phœbus and Artemis shooting at the children of Niobe;
and still further on the legs were represented the battle of the
Amazons and the comrades of Achelous. Over the back of the throne were
three Graces on one side, and three Hours on the other. Four golden
lions supported the footstool, and along its border was worked in
relief or intaglio the battle of Theseus with the Amazons. The sides of
the throne were ornamented with numerous figures representing various
groups and actions—such as Helios mounting his chariot, Zeus and
Charis, Zeus and Hera, Aphrodite and Eros, Phœbus and Artemis, Poseidon
and Amphitrite, Athena and Heracles, and others. What wonderful
elaboration expended on a mere accessory of this Colossus!

Scarcely less remarkable for its extreme ornamentation was the Athena
of the Parthenon. The goddess was represented standing, dressed in a
long tunic reaching to her feet, with the ægis on her breast, a helmet
on her head, a spear in her left hand, touching a shield which rested
at her side upon the base, and holding in her right hand a golden
Victory, six feet in height. Her own height was twenty-six cubits, or
about forty feet. Her robes were of gold beaten out with the hammer;
her eyes were of colored marble or ivory, with gems inserted. Every
portion was minutely covered with work. The crest of the helmet was a
sphinx, on either side of which were griffins. The ægis was surrounded
by golden serpents interlaced, and in its centre was a golden or ivory
head of Medusa. The shield was embossed with reliefs, representing on
the inner side the battle of the Giants with the Gods, and on the outer
side the battle of the Athenians with the Amazons. Beneath the spear
was couched a dragon; and even the sandals, which were four dactyls
high, were ornamented with chasings representing the battle of the
Centaurs with the Lapithæ. The base, which alone occupied months of
labor, was covered by reliefs representing the birth of Pandora, and
the visit of the divinities to her with their gifts—the figures being
some twenty in number. The interior or core of the statue was probably
of wood, and over this all the nude parts were veneered with plates of
ivory to imitate flesh, while the draperies and accessories were of
gold plates so arranged as to be removable at pleasure.

Here is certainly work enough to employ any man a very long time in
designing and executing. The Victory which Athena held in her hand was
of large life-size, and might easily have occupied a year. Besides
this, there are the embossed _bassi-relievi_ on both sides of the
shield, the ægis, with the Medusa’s head and golden serpents, the
dragon at her feet, the sphinx and griffins on her helmet, and the
_relievi_ and chasings which ornamented the base and the sandals. Yet
these are merely accessories. What, then, must have been the time
devoted to the figure itself, to the disposition and working out of
those colossal draperies, and to the perfect elaboration of the head,
the arms, and the extremities!

The tendency of Phidias’ mind to great elaboration and refinement of
finish is shown in both of these works. Colossal as they were, august
and grand in their total expression, the parts were quite as remarkable
for laborious detail as the whole was for grandeur and impressiveness.
He is generally considered and spoken of now solely in relation to
these great works; but it must be remembered that with the ancients
he was also renowned for his minute works. Julian, in his Epistles,
tells us that he was accustomed to amuse himself with making very small
images, representing for example bees, flies, cicadæ, and fishes, which
were executed with infinite delicacy, and greatly admired. His skill in
the toreutic art was also very remarkable; and as a chaser, engraver,
and embosser, he was among the first, if not the first, of his time.
He might be called, in a certain sense, the Cellini of Athens—vastly
superior to the celebrated Florentine in grandeur of conception, but
uniting, like him, the work of the goldsmith to that of the sculptor,
and, like him, distinguished for refinement and fastidiousness of
execution.

To this character and style there is nothing that responds in the
fragments of the Parthenon which we now possess. The style of the
figures in the pediment is broad, large, and effective, but it is
decorative in its character. The parts are classed and distributed
with skill, but they are often forced, in order to produce effect at a
distance and in the place where they were to be seen. They show the
practiced hands of men who have been trained in a grand school, but
they cannot be said to be finished with elaborate attention to details
or minute study of parts. Whatever characteristics of his style they
may have, they certainly want τò ἀκριβές, which was the distinguishing
feature of the work of Phidias.

The same remarks apply to the metopes and the frieze. It is evident
that all these works are of the same period; but in style, design, and
execution they differ from each other, as the works of various men in
the same school might be expected to differ. In grouping, composition,
treatment, and character of workmanship, the metopes are of quite
another class from the Panathenaic Procession of the frieze. Compared
with each other, the metopes are rounder and feebler in form, tamer
and more labored in treatment, and they want not only the spirit and
freedom of design of the figures in the frieze, but also their flat,
decisive, and squared execution. The frieze is very rich, varied, and
light in composition, while the metopes are comparatively monotonous
and heavy. Nor do the metopes differ more from the frieze than the
figures in the pediment do from both the frieze and the metopes. While
in execution the pediment sculpture is more flat and squared in style
than the metopes, it differs from the frieze in the treatment of the
draperies and in the proportions and character of the figures. As a
design, the figures on the pediment are disconnected, while those of
the frieze are interwoven with remarkable skill. Again, not only do
these three classes, as classes, differ from each other, but in each
class there are very decided inequalities and diversities of style and
workmanship between one part and another,—showing plainly that they
have been executed by various hands, some of more and some of less
skill. But the treatment of all is purely decorative, as it properly
should be. All of these sculptures were subordinated to the temple
which they decorated, and they were executed, not for near and minute
examination, but to produce a calculated effect in the position they
were to occupy. Fineness of workmanship, delicacy and refinement of
detail, would have been out of place and unnecessary, and evidently
were not attempted. This, however, was not the style of Phidias, who,
as we have seen, even in the colossal statues of Zeus and Athena,
elaborated to the utmost, with almost excessive labor, not only the
figures themselves, but also the least of the accessories. It was in
his nature to do this. He wished to leave the impress of all his arts
upon these splendid works; and he wrought upon them, not only as a
sculptor in the large sense of the word, but as a goldsmith, as an
engraver, a damascener, an embosser. Nothing was too rich, nothing too
large, nothing too small for him. He enjoyed it all—the minute detail
as well as the colossal mass. It was this peculiarity of his nature
that led him to select, and almost to create, the chryselephantine
school of art. He had been a painter in his youth, and his eye craved
color. The coldness of marble did not satisfy him and he rejected it,
not only for this reason, but because as a material it did not lend
itself to the art of the engraver and the goldsmith. Before his time
the colossi had been of bronze or wood. He introduced and perfected the
art of making them in ivory and gold; and it was as a maker of statues
of divinities in these materials and in bronze that he attained the
highest renown.

But abandoning the ground that these marble sculptures of the
Parthenon were _executed_ by Phidias, let us consider whether they
were _designed_ by him. Of this there is not a vestige of evidence.
It is not only not stated as a fact by any ancient writer, but not
even intimated in the most shadowy way, unless it be deduced from the
fact stated by Plutarch, that he was general superintendent of public
works, and that he had various classes of workmen under his orders.
What is meant by designing these works? Is it meant that he modeled
the designs? If this were the case, is it probable that no mention
would be made of it by any author? We are told of other cases in which
works were executed from his designs, and from the designs of other
artists. We are informed that the figures in the tympana of the temple
at Olympia were executed by Alcamenes and Pæonios; but nothing is said
about those figures in the Parthenon. Is there any necessity to suppose
these works to have been designed by Phidias? Surely not. There were
in Athens many other artists of great distinction who were fully able
to design and execute them, and among them were men but little inferior
to Phidias himself, who would not readily have accepted his designs,
and who, by profession, were sculptors in marble—not, like Phidias,
sculptors in bronze, or ivory and gold.

Among those men by whom Phidias was surrounded, and who were in
these various branches of art his rivals or his peers, may be named
Agoracritos, Alcamenes, Myron, Pæonios, Kolotes, Socrates, Praxias,
Androsthenes, Polyclitus, and Kalamis,—all sculptors in marble.
Besides these there were Hegias, Nestocles, Pythagoras, Kallimachus,
Kallon, Phradmon, Gorgias, Lacon, Kleoitas, and others of less note,
who were more specially toreutic artists and sculptors in bronze.
Here is a wonderful constellation of genius, and in it are many stars
of the first magnitude. Some of these men were peers of Phidias in
chryselephantine art. Some contended with him and won the prize over
him. Let us take a glance at some of the most eminent.

Polyclitus studied under the great Argive sculptor Ageledas, and was
a fellow-scholar with Phidias and Myron. He was the rival of Phidias
in his chryselephantine works, and but little if at all inferior to
him in his best works. He created the type of Hera, as Phidias did
that of Athena; and his colossal statue of that goddess in ivory and
gold at Argos was admitted to be unsurpassed even by the Athena of the
Parthenon. Strabo asserts that though inferior in size and nobleness to
the Athena and Zeus of Phidias, it equaled them in beauty, and in its
artistic execution excelled them (τῇ μὲν τέχνῃ κάλλιστα τῶν πάντων).
Dionysius of Halicarnassus accords to him, as to Phidias, τὸ σεμνὸν
καὶ μεγαλότεχνον καὶ ἀξιωματικόν—the character of grandeur, dignity,
and harmony of parts. Xenophon places him beside Homer, Sophocles, and
Zeuxis as an artist. Among his bronze works, the most celebrated were
the Diadumenos and the Doryphoros, the latter of which was called the
Canon, on account of its beauty and perfection of proportion. If to
Phidias was accorded the highest praise as the sculptor of divinities,
Polyclitus was considered his superior in his statues of men.

Nor was it only as a sculptor in bronze, gold, and ivory, that he was
distinguished. He was celebrated also for his marble statues, among
which may be mentioned the Apollo, Leto, and Artemis in the Temple
of Artemis, and the Orthia in Argolis; as well as for his skill in
the toreutic art. In this last art he excelled all others; and Pliny
says of him that he developed and perfected it as Phidias had begun
it—“toreuticen sic erudisse ut Phidias aperuisse.”

Myron, his fellow-scholar, had scarcely a less reputation, though in a
different way. He devoted himself to the representation of athletes,
among which the most celebrated was the Discobolos; of animals,
of which his Cow was the most famous; and of groups of satyrs, and
sea-monsters, and mythical creatures. He excelled in the representation
of life, action, and expression; and such was his skill, that Petronius
says of him that he almost expressed the souls of men and animals in
his bronzes.

Agoracritos and Alcamenes had a still higher distinction than Myron.
The famous Aphrodite of the Gardens (ἐν κήποις), a marble statue by
Alcamenes, enjoyed a reputation among the ancients scarcely if at
all below that of the Aphrodite of Praxiteles. Pliny, writing five
hundred years after, says that Phidias “_is said_ to have given the
finishing touches to this statue.” But this is one of those common and
absurd traditions that attach to the work of almost every great artist
long after his death, and it may be dismissed at once. Lucian gives
the statue directly and solely to Alcamenes—and to him undoubtedly
it belongs. He had no need of the help of Phidias, being himself a
much more accomplished worker in marble, even should we grant that
Phidias ever worked at all in this material. Indeed, it was specially
as a sculptor in marble that he was distinguished; and among other
works which he executed in this material were the colossal statues of
Hercules and Minerva, a group of Procne and Itys, and the statue of
Æsculapius. But what is the more significant in this connection is the
fact, stated by Pausanias, that it was he who executed the statues
representing the Centaurs and Lapithæ at the marriage of Pirithous,
which adorned the back tympanum of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia, where
the great Zeus of Phidias stood. Pausanias speaks of him as an artist
“who lived in the age of Phidias, and was the next to him in the art of
making statues.”

Agoracritos is called by Pausanias “the pupil and beloved friend of
Phidias,” and it is most probable that he worked with him on the Athena
and the Zeus. His most famous statue was the Nemesis at Rhamnus, which,
as we have seen, is attributed to Phidias by Pausanias, but which
clearly belongs to Agoracritos. The statue of the Mother of the Gods,
which Arrian and Pausanias give to Phidias, was also made by him,
according to Pliny.

Kolotes, who was also a pupil and assistant of Phidias at one time,
was a sculptor in marble as well as a celebrated artist in ivory and
gold. Among other works, he probably made a statue in gold and ivory of
Athena at Elis, which Pausanias attributes to Phidias, but which Pliny
asserts to be by Kolotes. There is no dispute that he made the statue
of Asclepius in gold and ivory, which is much praised by Strabo; and
he is said by Pliny to have assisted Phidias in the Zeus, and to have
executed the interior of the shield of the Athena at Elis, which was
painted by Panæus.

Pæonios, a Thracian by birth, was a celebrated sculptor in marble as
well as bronze; and, among other things, he executed the figures in
the front tympanum of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia. In character and
composition these figures resemble those of the Parthenon, and they are
executed in the same spirit. A fragment from the Temple of Zeus may be
seen in the Louvre, standing beside a fragment of one of the metopes of
the Parthenon. The fragment from the Temple of Zeus represents Heracles
with the Bull. It is fuller and larger in style than the fragment
from the Parthenon, which, seen beside it, looks stiff and meagre in
character, and the body of the Centaur in the one is decidedly inferior
to the body of the Bull in the other. This is probably a portion of the
work of Pæonios.

Praxias and Androsthenes, too, worked in marble in the same style,
and the figures in the tympana of the Delphic temple were executed by
them. The metopes also, of which five are alluded to in the Chorus of
Euripides, were probably their work.

Theocosmos, too, a contemporary of Phidias, worked with him, according
to Pausanias, on the Zeus at Megara, which was afterwards left
unfinished, on account of the Peloponnesian war: only the head was of
ivory and gold, the rest of the body being of plastic clay and wood.

But perhaps the most distinguished of all was Kalamis, who, though
probably a little younger than Phidias, was certainly a contemporary.
Among other works, he executed in bronze an Apollo Alexicacos; a
chariot in honor of Hiero’s Victory at Olympia; a marble Apollo in the
Servilian Gardens in Rome; another bronze Apollo thirty cubits high,
which Lucullus carried to Rome from Apollonia; a beardless Asclepius in
gold and ivory; a Nike; Zeus Ammon; Dionysos; Aphrodite; Alcmena; and
the famous Sosandra, so praised by Lucian. But what in this connection
is peculiarly to be noticed is, that, besides being renowned for
his statues of gods and mortals, he was celebrated for his skill in
the representation of animals; and the excellence of his horses is
specially spoken of by Ovid, Cicero, Pausanias, Propertius, and Pliny.
It would therefore, in this view, seem much more probable that he may
have designed the Panathenaic frieze than that it was designed by
Phidias, who, as far as we know, had no particular talent for horses
or animals. There is no indication, however, that either of them had
anything to do with it.

It is useless to proceed further in this direction. Here were men,
specially marble workers, who were amply able to execute all the marble
figures of the Parthenon, without recourse to Phidias; and as there
is no indication that he ever anywhere executed similar works for any
temple, while at least Alcamenes and Pæonios are known to have made the
works corresponding to these in the Temple of Zeus, there would seem to
be far more reason to attribute these figures to them than to Phidias,
who, at the time when they were made, was too much occupied with his
other work to have been able to execute them himself.

In the absence, then, of all clear indications as to the artist who
made the marble sculptures of the Parthenon, it would seem more
probable that they were executed by various hands, and in like
manner as those of the Erechtheum, built in the 93d Olympiad, about
twenty-eight years after the building of the Parthenon. Fortunately,
from the discovery of certain fragments on which the accounts of the
building of the Erechtheum were inscribed at the time, we are enabled
to say how these reliefs were made. Portions were set off to different
artists, each of whom executed his part, as described in these
fragments. The names of the artists were Agathenor, Iasos, Phyromachos,
Praxias, and Loclos. The inscription begins thus—I give only a fragment
of it—Τὸν παῖδα τὸν τὸ δόρυ ἔχοντα [Δ Δ. Φυρόμαχος Κηφισιεὺς τὸν
νεανίσκον τὸν παρὰ τὸν θώρακα ΓΔ. Πραχσίας ἐμ Μελίτῃ οἱκῶν τὸν ἵππον
καὶ τὸν ὀπισθοφανῆ τὸν παρακρούοντα ΗΔΔ]; and so on. The sign ΓΔ occurs
four times in the inscription. Three times the work is by Phyromachos,
and belongs apparently to the same group.[5]

Here we have names of artists who are unknown to us, unless the
Phyromachos named here is the same who, according to Pliny, made
Alcibiades in a chariot with four horses. And as for Praxias, he
cannot be the well-known Praxias, since he in all probability died
before the 92d Olympiad. If, then, these sculptures were intrusted to
artists whose very names have not come down to us, is it not probable
that the decorative sculptures of the Parthenon would have been
confided to artists of the same class? In such case it would seem most
natural that no mention would be made of them, more than of the artists
who worked on the Erechtheum, since they were persons of no peculiar
note and fame; while in the Temple of Zeus, inasmuch as artists of
distinction worked, their names are given. Why tell us that Alcamenes
and Pæonios made the groups in the tympana at Olympia, and omit to say
anything about similar works in the Parthenon, if they were executed by
Phidias or any other artist of great distinction?

Here, too, we see that different portions of the same work were
assigned to different artists, each working out his subjects
separately, though all working in agreement, to develop a certain story
or series of stories. Such a practice would account for all sorts of
varieties of design and execution, and would explain the differences
to be observed between the various portions of the sculptures of the
Parthenon.

A careful examination of the frieze alone shows that it must have been
executed by various artists, so distinct are the different parts as
well in execution as in design.

The notion commonly entertained, that Phidias was considered in his
age to be vastly superior to all contemporary sculptors, will scarcely
bear examination. He undoubtedly surpassed them all in his colossal
chryselephantine statues of divinities; though even in this branch
of art there was a difference of opinion, and one other artist at
least, Polyclitus, was held, in his statue of Hera, to have stood
abreast of him. Strabo declares that it excelled in beauty all the
works of Phidias. But in other branches of the art the superiority of
Phidias was not admitted; and he was, if report be true, repeatedly
adjudged a second place in his competitions with his rivals. Alcamenes,
Polyclitus, Kalamis, and Ctesilaus were his superiors in their marble
statues and representations of mortals, and we hear of no work of his
in marble to compete with theirs. Lucian, for instance, in his Dialogue
on Statues, praises equally the Venus of Praxiteles, the Sosandra of
Kalamis, the Aphrodite of the Gardens by Alcamenes, and the Athena
Lemnia and Amazon of Phidias; and out of the special beauties of each
he reconstructs an ideal image of the most beautiful woman. From the
Cnidian Aphrodite of Praxiteles he takes the head, having no need of
the rest of the body (he says), as the figure is not to be nude; and
from this head he selects the outlines of the hair, or rather the
outline of the forehead where it joins the hair, the forehead, the
delicately penciled eyebrows, and the liquid and radiant charm of the
eyes. From the Aphrodite of Alcamenes he takes the cheeks and the
lower part of the face, and especially the base of the hands, the
beautifully proportioned wrists, and the flexile taper fingers. From
Phidias he takes the total contour of the face, the softness of the
jaw, and the symmetrical nose of the Athena, and the lips and the
neck of the Amazon. From the Sosandra of Kalamis he takes her modest
grace and her delicate subtle smile, her chastely arranged dress and
her easy bearing. Her age and stature, he says, shall be that of the
Cnidian Aphrodite, for this is most beautiful in Praxiteles. For her
other qualities he draws upon the painters. This opinion of Lucian
is particularly interesting and valuable, from the fact that he had
studied and practiced the art of sculpture under his uncle, who was a
sculptor, and his judgment is therefore of far more value than that of
an ordinary connoisseur.

Pliny also relates a story which has a bearing in this connection, of a
competition between various celebrated artists, who were contemporaries
at this period. The subject was an Amazon. The artists themselves were
to be the judges; and it was agreed that the statue should be held to
be best which each artist ranked second to his own. The result was that
the first prize was adjudged to Polyclitus, the second to Phidias, the
third to Ctesilaus, the fourth to Cydon, and the fifth to Phradmon. We
may reject the story as a fact, but its very existence proves that the
fame of Phidias, great as it was, did not so entirely eclipse that of
other artists of his time as we generally suppose. Who of us now would
think that Phradmon and Cydon, for example, stood on a level to contend
with him, with any chance of other than a disastrous defeat? But it is
plain that the ancients did not think so, or this story would not have
been invented.

We now come to the question whether Phidias ever worked at all in
marble. His renown undoubtedly rested upon his magnificent statues
in ivory and gold, and especially upon his Zeus and Athena of the
Parthenon, which towered above all his other works. So wonderful was
the Zeus, that it was said to have strengthened religion in Greece; and
the Athena of the Parthenon was held to be the glory of Athens. The
poets and writers celebrate Phidias always as specially the creator of
these great chryselephantine works; and though they praise the beauty
of his bronze works, and especially of the Athena Lemnia, it is plain
that these held a secondary place in public estimation, or at all
events did not stand alone and apart as the others did. Thus Propertius
says, characterizing the sculptors:—

   “Phidiacus signo se Juppiter ornat eburno;
    Praxitelem propria vindicat arte Lapis;
    Gloria Lysippi est animosa effingere signa;
    Exactis Calamis se mihi jactat equis.”

So Quinctilian says of him: “Phidias tamen diis quam hominibus
efficiendis melior artifex traditur—in ebore vero longe citra
æmulum, vel si nihil nisi Minervam Athenis aut Olympium in Elide
Jovem fecisset” (lib. xii. ch. 10). But no writer anywhere near this
period—even within five centuries of it—ever mentions a marble figure
by Phidias, or celebrates him in any way as a sculptor in this material.

In the evidence given before a committee of the House of Commons
upon the Elgin collection of marbles, previous to the purchase of
them by the nation, Richard Payne Knight and William Wilkins gave
it as their opinion that these works were not by Phidias, and that
he was not a worker in marble. This statement has been rejected by
the author of the work on the Elgin and Phigaleian Marbles, in the
Library of Entertaining Knowledge, as entirely without foundation.
In this conclusion it must be admitted that he follows the opinion
generally entertained at the present day, and repeated by nearly every
modern writer. Visconti, to whom he refers as refuting satisfactorily
the notion of Knight and Wilkins, thus argues the question: “If it
were imagined that Phidias devoted himself to the toreutic art, and
that he employed in his works only ivory and metals, this opinion
would be confuted by Aristotle, who distinguishes this great artist
by the appellation of σοφὸς λιθουργός—a skillful sculptor in
marble—in opposition to Polyclitus, whom he styles simply a statuary,
ἀνδριαντοποιός, since the latter scarcely ever employed his talents
except in bronze. In fact, several marble statues of Phidias were
known to Pliny, who might even have seen some of them at Rome, since
they had been removed to this city; and the most famous work of
Alcamenes, the Venus of the Gardens, had only, as it was said, acquired
so high a degree of perfection because Phidias, his master, had himself
taken pleasure in finishing with his own hand his beautiful statue in
marble.”

An examination into these statements will show, not only that not one
of them is well founded, but that the authorities on which they profess
to stand will not at all sustain them. Visconti’s mind is in a nebulous
state as to the whole question, and he confounds things which have no
relation to each other. The first mistake he makes is in confusing the
toreutic art with the art of making statues in ivory and gold. I am
aware that M. Quatremere de Quincy, in his treatise on chryselephantine
statues, constantly uses these two terms as equivalent; but in so
doing he is admitted by all persons who have critically studied the
matter to be entirely incorrect. The toreutic art was the art of
the engraver, the chaser, the damascener, the embosser. It might be
employed, and undoubtedly was employed, by Phidias in decorating
part of his statue, as it might be applied to a bronze statue, or to
any metal surface or slab; but it was not the art of making statues
in any material. Visconti’s next proposition is, that by the term
σοφὸς λιθουργός Aristotle meant to indicate a worker in marble as
distinguished from an ἀνδριαντοποιός, who was a statuary in bronze,
and to show that Phidias worked in marble, while Polyclitus worked only
or chiefly in bronze. Neither of these statements can be supported; and
it is impossible that Aristotle could have meant to make them. In the
first place, λιθουργός does not mean a worker in marble; λιθουργική
and λιθοτριβική were specially the art of cutting and polishing gems
and precious stones; and a λιθουργός was a lapidary in relief or
intaglio,[6] not a sculptor of marble statues. Again, ἀνδριαντοποιός
does not mean a sculptor in bronze as distinguished from a sculptor in
marble, but merely a maker of statues, of athletes or heroes, in any
material, whether in wood, bronze, marble, gold, or ivory.

Now, when we remember that Phidias was celebrated not only for his
colossal works, but also for his skill as an engraver, embosser, and
damascener—in a word, for his skill in the toreutic art, which Pliny
tells us was developed by him and perfected by Polyclitus, as well as
for his minutely elaborated representations of flies, cicadæ, fishes,
and bees—the meaning of Aristotle in applying to him the title of
λιθουργός is clear. He was a λιθουργός in the exact meaning of that
term, and a very skillful one. Aristotle is equally correct in applying
the term ἀνδριαντοποιός, maker of athletes and heroes, to Polyclitus;
for that great artist had won the highest fame of his age for statues
of this kind, and established the laws of proportion in his Diadumenos
and Doryphoros. If, however, as Visconti imagines, Aristotle meant to
indicate that Phidias was a worker in marble, while Polyclitus was
not, he is clearly wrong; for we know that Polyclitus executed various
and celebrated statues in marble, whereas, as we shall see, we have no
clear proof that Phidias ever did. Still further, if Aristotle intended
to distinguish Phidias from Polyclitus by saying that the one was a
skillful λιθουργός, and the other was not, he is again quite wrong,
whether he meant by that term to indicate a toreutic artist or, as
Visconti thinks, a marble worker; for Polyclitus was even more skilled
than Phidias in both these arts. Again, if he meant to distinguish
the one artist from the other as a maker of ἀγάλματα, or statues of
divinities, he is wrong; for the chryselephantine Hera of Polyclitus
rivaled the Athena of Phidias. The plain fact is that Aristotle did not
mean to distinguish one of these great artists from the other in any
such way. He is perfectly right in the terms he applies to each; but he
did not say, nor could he have intended to say, that one was a σοφὸς
λιθουργός or an ἀνδριαντοποιός, and the other was not—since, as we
know, both of them were λιθουργοί and ἀνδριαντοποιοί, and he must have
known it.

Stress has also been laid by some writers on the fact that Phidias
is called a γλυφεύς by Dionysius of Halicarnassus, and that Tzetzes
speaks of him as ἀνδριάντας χαλκουργῶν καὶ γλύφων τε καὶ ξέων, and
that Hesychius uses the phrase Φειδίαι λιθοξόοι. These phrases, even
were they inconsistent with the view here taken, would be of very
little consequence if standing by themselves, as the earliest of these
writers flourished some six hundred years, and the latest some nine
hundred years, after Phidias; but taken in connection with the words
of Aristotle, they may perhaps have some little weight. What is a
γλυφεύς, then? Why, simply an engraver and a chiseler. And what does
Tzetzes mean by ἀνδριάντας χαλκουργῶν καὶ γλύφων τε καὶ ξέων? Why,
that Phidias made statues of heroes and athletes in brass, and that
he was a chiseler and engraver. The words γλυφή and γλαφή in Greek,
and _scalptura_ and _sculptura_ in Latin, though originally they
signified generically cutting figures out of every solid material, were
afterwards specifically applied to intagli and camei, and are the art
of the cœlator, or τορευτής, or more properly, perhaps, restricted to
the cutting and engraving of precious stones.

The next statement of Visconti is that several marble statues by
Phidias were known to Pliny, and that the Aphrodite of Alcamenes
acquired its perfection because Phidias himself finished it. As to
the latter branch of this statement nothing more need be said. It is
evidently one of those idle traditions which are not worth considering.
But let us see what Pliny actually says. In his account of Phidias he
does not even pretend to state, as an accredited fact, that Phidias
ever worked in marble. In the chapter devoted to sculptors in marble he
says, “_It is said_, that _even_ Phidias worked in marble” (et ipsum
Phidiam _tradunt_ scalpsisse marmora) “and that there is a Venus by
him at Rome, in the buildings of Octavia, of extraordinary beauty; but
_what is certain is_” (quod certum est) “that he was the master of
Alcamenes, many of whose works are on the sacred temples, and whose
celebrated Venus, called ἐν κήποις, is outside the walls. Phidias _is
said_” (dicitur) “to have put the finishing touches to this.” Pliny,
therefore, by no means asserts that Phidias ever executed anything
in marble; he merely says that there is a rumor or tradition to that
effect; but he absolutely states as an established fact that Alcamenes
was his pupil, and executed the beautiful statue of Aphrodite; and he
then goes on to say, as another tradition, that Phidias assisted him in
finishing it. Here he clearly distinguishes between fact and tradition,
and his language shows that he placed no reliance on the latter. He
does not even pretend to have seen the statue of Venus, supposed to be
by Phidias, in the buildings of Octavia; and it is evident, from the
turn of his sentence, that, gossiping and credulous as he generally
was, he gave no credence to this rumor.

The whole argument of Visconti thus falls to the ground with the facts
by which he attempts to support it.

There remain for us to consider the marble statues ascribed to Phidias
by Pausanias, which are as follows: 1st, The Nemesis at Rhamnus; 2d,
The Hermes at the entrance of the Ismenium at Thebes; 3d, The Aphrodite
Urania at Athens, near the Ceramicus.

We have already seen that the Nemesis at Rhamnus was not the work
of Phidias, but of Agoracritos; that Pausanias disagrees with other
authorities in attributing it to Phidias; and that the name of
Agoracritos was inscribed upon it as its author. This, therefore, must
be rejected.

In the next place, as to the marble Hermes at the entrance to the
Ismenium. This statue, as we have seen, was a decorative entrance
statue standing before the temple; and its pendant, Athena, according
to Pausanias, was the work of Scopas, who died a century later. The one
pedestal could scarcely be left unoccupied for a century, yet this must
have been the case if Pausanias is right; and for reasons which have
already been given, this statue is, to say the least, not without very
grave doubts. No other author speaks of it, and it rests solely on the
authority of Pausanias, who lived more than six centuries after Phidias.

There remains, then, the Aphrodite Urania. Pausanias is the sole
authority for considering this statue the work of Phidias; and as,
being in marble, it would be the only one ascribed to him upon which
there are not either the gravest doubts as to his authorship or the
clearest indications that he was not the author, we should accept
it with caution. Can we trust Pausanias? He certainly does not agree
with other writers as to the authorship of various statues. The statue
of Athena at Elis, attributed by him to Phidias, Pliny says is by
Kolotes. The Mother of the Gods, said by him to be a work of Phidias,
is, according to Pliny, the work of Agoracritos. The Æsculapius at
Epidaurus, given by him to Thrasymedes, is given by Athenagoras to
Phidias. In respect of the Nemesis, he is clearly mistaken. Pausanias
wrote long after Pliny, when facts were still more obscured by time.
Tradition changes names; transmutes facts, and tends always to give
great names to nameless works. He was a traveler in Greece in the age
of Marcus Aurelius, when the arts, even in Rome, were in their decline;
and he only reports what he sees and hears. He does not pretend to be
a critic or a connoisseur in art. He was not one; and his accounts of
the great statues in Greece are singularly dry and meagre. He would
naturally be told who was the author of this, that, and the other
statue that he saw; and he seems to have taken common report without
a question, just as a traveler in Rome without particular knowledge
or interest in art would accept the authorship of the Colossi in the
Quirinal, and without hesitation follow the tradition and ascribe them
in his book to Phidias and Praxiteles. If he were always accurate in
these matters, or if he had ever shown any critical doubts about the
authorship of any work, a statement by him on such a subject would
be entitled to more consideration; but as it is, in view of the facts
that no other author before him has ascribed the Aphrodite Urania
to Phidias, and that if it be by him it is his only marble work of
which we have any clear testimony, little faith can be placed in the
statement by Pausanias. Add to this that no contemporary of Phidias,
and no writer anywhere near his age, has ever spoken of any marble work
of his, and I think we must reject this statue as we have rejected the
others.

In estimating the value of any such statements as to the authorship of
statues, we must keep in mind the fact that it was not only not the
custom for the ancient Greek sculptors to inscribe their names on their
own statues, but it was not ordinarily permitted to them to do so on
any public work; and undoubtedly it was for this reason that Phidias
himself made his own likeness as well as the portrait of Pericles on
the shield of the Athena, to indicate that the work was done by him
while Pericles had the administration of affairs at Athens. In the
same way Batrachus and Saurus, two Lacedæmonian artists who built the
temples inclosed in the Portico of Octavia, being prohibited from
inscribing their names on the walls, adopted the device of sculpturing
on the spirals of the columns a lizard and a frog, which their names
signified,—thus punning in marble, to perpetuate their names as
architects of the temples. So also Myron is said to have inscribed
his name on the thigh of his Discobolos in such minute characters as
to be visible only on the closest inspection. In the case of some of
the great statues, the names of the authors were exceptionally allowed
to be inscribed after their deaths; and this was probably the case
with the Zeus of Phidias. Ordinarily no such practice was permitted.
Such being the case, the authorship of Greek statues at the time of
Pausanias would rest entirely upon tradition—and tradition is little to
be trusted.

Besides, what adds to the difficulty is that it was the custom in later
times to put the names of ancient sculptors on works not made by them,
to give them a higher value; it is of this practice that Phædrus speaks
in one of his Fables:—

   “Æsopi nomen sicubi interposuero
    Cui reddidi jampridem quidquid debui
    Auctoritatis esse scito gratia;
    Ut quidem artifices nostro faciunt sæculo
    Qui pretium operibus majus inveniunt, novo
    Si marmore adscripsere Praxitelem suo
    Trito Myronem argento.”

Of the statues which now exist, there are only some thirty on which
names are inscribed, and these are certainly for the most part, if
not entirely, apocryphal. The name of Phidias, together with that of
Ammonius, for instance, appears on a monkey in basalt in the Capitol at
Rome; that of Praxiteles on a draped figure in the Louvre; and that of
Lysippus on a marble Hercules in the Pitti Gallery at Florence—not one
of which is of the least value as a work of art. So, on the torso of
the Belvidere is the name of Apollonius; on the Farnese Hercules that
of Glycon; on the Gladiator of the Louvre that of Agasias the Ephesian,
son of Dositheos—though these names are not mentioned by any writers
of antiquity. No authority can be granted to these inscriptions, and
possibly the very fact that these names are on the statues is an
indication that they are copies; all have ἐποίει. D’Hancarville and
Dallaway make a distinction between ἐποίει and ἐποίησεν,—the former,
according to them, signifying a copy, and the latter an original work.
On the Nemesis at Rhamnus was the inscription, ΑΓΟΡΑΚΡΙΤΟΣ ΠΑΡΙΟΣ
ΕΠΟΙΗΣΕΝ; and this would seem to confirm their notion. On the Zeus of
Phidias, also, was the inscription, ΦΕΙΔΙΑΣ ΧΑΡΜΙΔΟΥ ΥΙΟΣ ΑΘΗΝΑΙΟΣ Μ’
ΕΠΟΙΗΣΕΝ.

I do not recall, however, a single statue which has come down to us
on which the word ἐποίησεν occurs, except an interesting and coarsely
executed relief in the British Museum, representing the deification
of Homer. Where there is any inscription it is ἐποίει; but it is an
exceedingly rare exception that any ancient statue has a name inscribed
on it. Almost all, if not all, the statues having names of the artists
are of a late date, and probably most of them as late as the time of
Hadrian. It was he who revived the art of sculpture; and during his
reign a great number of copies, more or less good, were made of the
famous statues of antiquity; but unfortunately there has not come
down to us a single accredited statue by any of the great sculptors of
antiquity.

There are only two other authorities, so far as I am aware, who
mention or make any allusion to marble work by Phidias; these must
be considered. Seneca, nearly five hundred years after the death
of Phidias, says of him, “Not only did Phidias know how to make a
statue in ivory, but he also made them in bronze.” Thus far he speaks
absolutely; he then continues hypothetically, “If you had given him
marble, or even a viler material, he would have made the best thing
out of it that could be made.”[7] This is considered by the author of
the work on the Elgin and Phigaleian Marbles an important statement
in confirmation of Pliny. In reality it contains nothing but a simple
hypothetical expression of belief that if you had given Phidias a
piece of marble he would have made something excellent out of it.
Does any one doubt this? Seneca states as a fact only that Phidias
really _did_ work in ivory and bronze; and it is plain that he knew no
work of Phidias in marble, or he never would have expressed a purely
hypothetical opinion on such a matter.

The other authority which has been evoked in favor of the theory that
Phidias worked in marble is that of Valerius Maximus, who states that
there existed a tradition that he desired to execute the Athena of the
Parthenon in marble, but that the Athenians would not permit him to
do so: “Iidem Phidiam _tulerunt_ quamdiu is marmore potius quam ebore
Minervam fieri debere dicebat, quod diutius nitor esset mansurus; sed
ut adjecit et vilius tacere jusserunt.” (Lib. i. c. i., Externa 7.)

There is no authority for this tradition. It comes up five hundred
years after the death of Phidias, and is manifestly absurd. Phidias
had identified himself and his fame with his great chryselephantine
and bronze works. He knew too well his own power, and his mastery over
these arts, to wish to make the Athena in any other material than that
in which it was made. But suppose he did so advise the Athenians, his
advice was not accepted. The statue was not made of marble. Perhaps
also he proposed to them to give it to Alcamenes, Agoracritos, or
Polyclitus. What sort of value can be given to a statement like this
appearing suddenly and solely in one writer five hundred years after
the Athena was made? If we are to accept such traditions as this, we
may as well “gape and swallow” any _gobemouche_. Let us have at once a
life of Shakespeare written in Leipzig, or any other foreign country at
least as far away as that.

This is all the testimony we have as to any work by Phidias in marble.
Has it any real weight? But grant all these statements, vague and
visionary as they are, to their fullest extent, what do they prove?
Not that Phidias was especially a marble-worker, but only that he made,
exceptionally, one or two statues in marble, and was supposed by some
writers five hundred years after his death, to have had a connection
with two more, though other testimony, and the facts and dates, clearly
show that he could not have made them, or at least throw the very
gravest doubts upon his having done so. In this way, we might assert
that Raffaelle was a sculptor, because he is supposed to have made, or
helped to make, the statue of Jonah in the Santa Maria del Popolo at
Rome. But to jump from such shaky facts to the statement and belief
that Phidias was the author, or at all events the designer, of all the
marble figures in the pediment, theme topes, and the frieze of the
Parthenon, is truly “a long cry.” Where is the ground on which such a
belief can be founded? There is not a statement or even an allusion by
any ancient writer to justify it. The testimony of Plutarch, so far
as it goes, is directly opposed to it, and all the known facts are in
contradiction of it.

Plutarch says that Phidias was appointed general superintendent of
public works; that he made the statue of Athena in the Parthenon; and
that, through the friendship of Pericles, he had the direction of
everything, and all the artists received his orders. But he contradicts
this immediately, if he is understood to mean anything more than that
Phidias generally ordered who should be employed to do this or that
work; for he distinctly says that Ictinus and Callicrates made the
Parthenon,—and we know that Ictinus and Carpion wrote a book upon it.
If Phidias designed or executed anything else than the Athena, why does
not Plutarch say so, when he takes pains to tell us he made the Athena?
The mention of the one excludes the other. If Ictinus and Callicrates
made the building, why may they not have made all the rest of the work?
Were they not able to do it? There is no reason to doubt their ability
to design and execute all the decorative figures belonging to the
temple they built. To Ictinus was intrusted the building of the Temple
of Apollo at Phigaleia, in the sculptures of which there is shown
remarkable ability; and he also built the Temple of the Eleusinian
Ceres, and its mystic inclosure or Secos. If Ictinus and Callicrates,
or Carpion, did not execute these marbles of the Parthenon, why may
they not have intrusted them to some of the numerous artists with whom
Athens swarmed at that time? Libon the architect built the temple of
Zeus in which the Zeus of Phidias stood, and its pediment figures were
sculptured by Alcamenes and Pæonios. Is there any reason to reject such
a theory? However, as to this we are entirely in the dark; all our
suppositions are purely speculative. Nothing seems clear, except that
the figures were not made by Phidias.

Why did not Plutarch tell us who were the sculptors of the marbles
in the Parthenon? Probably for the very simple reason that he did
not know. He wrote many centuries after Phidias was dead (about
B. C. 66), and tradition may not have brought down the names of any
who were concerned in the building of the Parthenon, save those of
the architects and of Phidias. He did not attempt to supply the
hiatus—being, to use his own words, convinced “of the difficulty of
arriving at any truth in history: since if the writers live after the
events they relate, they can but be imperfectly informed of facts;
and if they describe the persons and transactions of their own times,
they are tempted by envy and hatred, or by interest and friendship, to
vitiate and pervert the truth.”



THE ART OF CASTING IN PLASTER AMONG THE ANCIENT GREEKS AND ROMANS.


I.

The question whether the art of making moulds and casts in plaster was
known to the ancient Greeks and Romans was discussed some years ago
by Mr. Charles C. Perkins, in an interesting pamphlet entitled “Du
Moulage en Plâtre chez les Anciens,”[8] in which he collected various
passages from ancient writers bearing more or less on this subject, and
endeavored by their authority to establish the fact that this process
was known and practiced at a comparatively early period in the history
of art. After a careful examination of all his citations and arguments,
as well as other authorities which he does not cite, we feel compelled
to dissent entirely from his conclusions. We do not think he has made
out his case. The question is an interesting one, however, from an
archæological point of view at least, and well deserves consideration.

The only passage among the writings of the ancients which at first
sight would seem directly to affirm that the process of casting in
plaster from life, from clay models, or from statues in the round, in
the modern meaning of that phrase, was known to the Greeks and Romans
occurs in the “Natural History” of Pliny, and is as follows:—

    “Hominis autem imaginem gypso e facie ipsa primus omnium
    expressit, ceraque in eam formam gypsi infusa emendare instituit
    Lysistratus Sicyonis, frater Lysippi, de quo diximus. Hic et
    similitudinem reddere instituit, ante eum quam pulcherrimum
    facere studebant. Idem et de signis effigiem exprimere invenit,
    crevitque res in tantum, ut nulla signa statuæve sine argilla
    fierent. Quo apparet antiquiorem hanc fuisse scientiam quam
    fundendi æris. Plastæ laudatissimi fuere Damophilus et Gorgasus
    idemque pictores qui Cereris ædem Romæ ad Circum Maximum utroque
    genere artis suæ excoluerunt.”[9]

Mr. Perkins, following in substance other translators, thus freely
translates and develops this passage:—

    “Lysistrate de Sicyone fut le premier à prendre en plâtre des
    moules de la figure humaine. Dans ces moules il coulait de la
    cire, puis il corrigeait ces masques de cire d’après la nature.
    De la sorte, il atteignit la ressemblance, tandis qu’avant lui on
    ne s’appliquait qu’à faire de belles têtes. Lysistrate imagina
    aussi de reproduire l’image des statues, procédé qui obtint
    une telle vogue, que depuis lors ni figure ni statue ne fut
    faite sans argile, et l’on soit en conclure que ce procédé est
    antérieur à la fonte du bronze.”

If this translation be correct, there seems to be no doubt either that
Pliny was mistaken, or that the ancients knew and practiced the modern
art of casting in plaster.

Is, then, this translation correct? It seems to us to be an utter
misapprehension of the whole meaning of the passage. Pliny says nothing
about moulding or casting, and thus to translate and amplify the words
he does use is to assume the very facts in question. What he really
says is literally as follows:—

    “Lysistratus of Sicyon, brother of Lysippus, of whom we have
    spoken, first of all expressed the image of a man in gypsum
    from the whole person [that is, made full-length portraits],
    and improved it with wax [or color, for, as we shall see,
    _cera_ means both] spread over the form. He first began to make
    likenesses, whereas before him the study was to make persons
    as beautiful as possible. He also invented expressing effigies
    from statues; and this practice so grew that no statues or signa
    [which were full-length figures either painted, modeled, cast
    in bronze, or executed in marble] were made without white clay.
    From which it would seem that this science [or process] was
    older than that of casting in bronze. The most famous modelers
    were Damophilus and Gorgasus, who were also painters, and who
    decorated the temple of Ceres at Rome with both branches of their
    art.”

The first sentence, thus literally rendered, it will be perceived, has
in many respects the same ambiguity in English as in Latin. The words
“image,” “expression,” and “form” have all a double signification, and
the question is what is their true meaning in this connection.

If it can be shown that this passage neither describes nor proposes
to describe the process of casting in plaster, as we understand that
phrase, the keystone of the whole argument that it was known to
the ancients falls out. No other writer directly asserts that such
a knowledge or practice existed, and all allusions to this matter
contained in any ancient author are purely collateral, and have no
force in themselves. Further, some well-known facts which we shall have
occasion to bring forward later are entirely opposed to the probability
of such a knowledge and practice.

It is upon this passage in Pliny, then, that the whole case depends.
Now, in a doubtful and obscure question like this, dependent upon the
statement of any single author, we have a right to claim three things:
first, that the statement should be clear and fairly susceptible of
only one explanation; second, that it should not be contradicted by
a subsequent statement immediately following; third, that the author
himself should be trustworthy.

And in the first place, as to the author. The “Natural History” of
Pliny is certainly a most interesting, amusing, and in many respects
valuable book, but quite as certainly it is one of the most inaccurate
that ever was written, abounding in half-knowledge, second-hand
information, legendary statements, and rubbish of every kind. It is,
in a word, the commonplace book of an agreeable, gossiping man, of
a wide reading, who took little pains to be accurate, who reported
everything he heard with slight examination, who was exceedingly
credulous, and who accepted as truth and fact the most ridiculous
stories. All is fish that comes to his net. In his chapters relating
to artists and art he is singularly devoid of judgment or accurate
knowledge; he constantly confuses things which have no relation to
each other, often contradicts himself, and becomes at times utterly
unintelligible. Yet we are forced to turn to Pliny, to give a weight
and authority to his words upon art, and to own a deep debt of
gratitude to him, not because he is trustworthy, but simply because he
alone of all the ancient authors, with the exception of Pausanias, has
given us a detailed account of the statues and artists of antiquity.
His account of the ancient artists and their works is the fullest we
have, and adrift as we often are on a wide sea of conjecture, we are
glad to seize upon any straws and fragments, “rari nantes in gurgite
vasto” of blankness and doubt; seizing here a bit from Pausanias,
Herodotus, or Lucian, there a waif from Cicero, or a floating fragment
from one of the great tragic poets, and glad enough to get upon any
such raft as that which Pliny gives us, however leaky and rickety. But
seaworthy or trustworthy in emergencies Pliny certainly is not.

In the next place, as to the passage under discussion. So far from
its being clear and distinct, its obscurity, confusion, and apparent
contradiction are so great as to have baffled every effort to explain
it satisfactorily; and Dr. Brunn, one of the most accomplished of
archæologists, in his history of Greek art, finding it impossible to
reconcile the different sentences, does not hesitate to treat a portion
as an interpolation, or at least out of place where it appears.

Two views are to be taken of the process described by Pliny: first,
that by the term “cera” he means wax; and second, that he means color.
Taking the first view, let us now consider the passage in question,
sentence by sentence, and endeavor to unravel its real meaning.
Lysistratus, first of all, made likenesses of men in gypsum from their
whole figure (that is, whole-length portraits), and improved them
with wax (or color) spread over the form (core or model) of gypsum.
“Imaginem gypso e facie ipsa expressit” are the words of Pliny which
Mr. Perkins in common with other translators supposes to mean “made
moulds in plaster from the face,”—“prendre en plâtre des moules.” But
this simple phrase cannot be twisted into such a meaning. “Exprimere,”
according to Forcellinus, is “effingere, rappresentare, assomigliare,
_ritrarre dal vivo_.” “Exprimere” alone would be, therefore, according
to this last definition, to make a portrait from life. The additional
words, “imaginem e facie ipsa,” make this meaning still stronger.
“Imaginem” means a full-length figure or likeness, and not a mould, as
would be required by Mr. Perkins’s translation. “Exprimere imaginem”
cannot be forced to mean “made a mould,” whether in gypsum or in any
other material. Suppose we translate the words literally, “to express
an image in plaster,” and interpret “image” to mean mould, it is plain
that the phrase is wrong; it should be _impress_ and not _express_. You
cannot express a mould. It is impressed on the face. In like manner
when Plautus says “expressa imago in cera,” or “expressa simulacra ex
auro,” he means making a portrait in color or in gold. Again, “facies”
does not mean face, but the total outward shape, appearance, or figure
of a man. “Vultus” is the proper term for face, and is so used by
Pliny himself; as when he speaks, for instance, of the portraits of
the head of Epicurus as “vultus Epicuri,” and distinguishes them from
the full-length figures of athletes, “imagines athletarum,” with which
the ancients adorned their palæstra and anointing-rooms. In fact, the
whole chapter in which this passage occurs relates to portraits, and
is entitled “honos imaginum.” If there could be any question on this
point, it would be settled by a passage in Aulus Gellius (13, 29),
in which he defines “facies” as the build of the whole body,—“facies
est factura quædam totius corporis;” and Cicero, in his treatise “De
Legibus” (1, 9), says, “That which is called ‘vultus’ exists in no
living being except man,”—“Is qui appellatur vultus nullo in animante
esse præter hominem potest.”[10] So Virgil in “vivos ducent de marmore
vultus” means the face. “Imago,” on the contrary, and “facies” mean
the whole figure; only “facies” means the real figure, and “imago” the
imitation of it. Pliny himself invariably uses them so, and in one of
his letters (ep. 7, 33, 2) he recommends that we should be careful to
select the best artist to make a full-length likeness,—“Esse nobis curæ
solet ut facies nostra ab optimo quoque artifice exprimatur.” By the
word “exprimatur” he certainly does not refer to casting. So mechanical
an operation as this surely does not require the best of artists.
“Imaginem e facie ipsa” means therefore a full-length likeness.

Again, “infundere” does not necessarily mean pour in, but is quite as
often used in the sense of poured over or spread on; as where Ovid
says, “infundere ceram tabellis;” or where Virgil says, “campi fusi in
omnem partem,” or “sole infuso terris;” or again where Ovid uses the
phrases “collo infusa mariti” or “nudos humeris infusa capillos,” it
can only mean spread over. Wax cannot be poured into a flat surface
like a tablet, or hair poured into shoulders.

Mr. Perkins, with Forcellinus before his eyes, after citing his
definitions of “exprimere” says: “Explications qui toutes rentrent
dans l’idée de représenter, de reproduire, de prendre sur le vif,
comme on dit en français, et par conséquent dans l’idée du moulage.”
But “ritrarre dal vivo” means nothing more than to make a portrait
from life, whatever “prendre sur le vif” may mean; nor can any one of
Forcellinus’s definitions be tortured into an allusion to casting.
“Mais,” he continues, “cette idée surtout est accusée dans Tacite, qui
dit en parlant d’un vêtement que dessinait les formes, un vêtement
collant ‘_vestis_ artus exprimens.’” But surely this phrase means
simply a garment expressing, or as we should say showing, the limbs,
and has nothing more to do with “casting” than “dessinait les formes”
has to do with drawing, or a “vêtement collant” has to do with glue. He
also thinks another phrase used by Pliny—“expressi cera _vultus_”—has
a similar significance. If all our metaphors are to be subjected to
this strict test, we must be very careful how we speak. Yet these and
similar examples, which he says he could multiply, “peuvent suffire,”
he thinks, “pour nous autoriser à croire que Pline a voulu dire que
Lysistrate était l’inventeur de la reproduction des statues par le
plâtre, en d’autres termes qu’il était le premier qui avait eu l’idée
de se servir du gypse pour mouler.” This, to say the least, is going
very far. With such philologic views, what would he think of this
phrase, “vera paterni oris effigies,” or “vivos ducent de marmore
vultus,” or “infans omnibus membris expressa”? Or, to take an English
line, what would he make of—

    “The express form and image of the King”?

But if Pliny meant casting, why did he not use the appropriate Latin
word for that process—“fundere”? In the subsequent sentence, speaking
of casting in brass, he says “fundendi æris.” “Fundere” meant to cast,
not “exprimere.”

Besides, let us look at the practical difficulty in this process.
After the moulds were made and the wax cast into them, as Mr. Perkins
interprets Pliny to mean, we have still only wax impressions, and not
plaster castings. And how were they got out of the mould after they
were cast? We, in modern times, have learned no method of doing this;
we should be obliged first to make the mould in plaster, then to make a
cast in plaster in that mould, then on that cast to make a piece-mould
with sections to take apart,—an elaborate process; and then we could
get a wax cast, but not before. The fact that the cast mentioned by
Pliny (supposing he means a cast) is in wax not only involves quadruple
labor and skill on the part of the caster, but makes the process
impossible, or next to impossible, if it were simply as he is supposed
to describe it. If the cast were in plaster, it would resist, so that
the mould could be broken off from it in bits; but with wax this would
be entirely impracticable.

Let us still further consider the phrase “ceraque in eam formam gypsi
infusa emendare instituit.” What does “cera in eam formam infusa” mean?
Simply to cover or spread wax (or color) over that model; just as Ovid
says “infundere ceram tabellis,” to spread wax over the tablets, not
to pour wax into the tablets, for that was impossible, they being flat
surfaces, nor to cast them. Again, Pliny does not say that Lysistratus
introduced the practice of spreading wax over a core, or of pouring
wax into a form, or casting; but only of improving the likenesses,
or working them up in the wax after it was spread over the plaster:
“instituit emendare,” he says, not “instituit infundere.” “Formam”
here has not the signification of mould, but of model or image.
Undoubtedly the term “forma” in Latin was used to signify a mould as
well as a cast, or a model, or a form; and in this respect it had the
same ambiguity that the corresponding terms “mould” and “form” have
in English. A “form” is a seat, as well as a shape and a ceremony,
and “mould” is constantly, though improperly, used to indicate a
model or the thing moulded, as well as the real mould in which it is
cast; the phrases “to model” and “to mould” are often synonymous in
meaning. So “forma” was sometimes employed in its primary significance
of figure, shape, and configuration, as when Quinctilian says, “Eadem
cera aliæ atque aliæ formæ duci solent,”—various shapes may be given
to the same wax; sometimes in the sense of image, as when Cicero
speaks of “formæ clarissimorum,” the images of distinguished men;
sometimes to mean a model or shape over which a thing is wrought, as
a shoemaker’s last,—“Si scalpra et formas non sutor emat,” as Horace
says; and sometimes as indicating a hollow mould in which bronze is
cast, as when Pliny says, “Ex iis [silicibus] formæ fiunt, in quibus
æra funduntur,”—from these pebbles moulds are made, in which brass is
cast. But when he uses it in this last sense, it will be observed,
Pliny employs the term “fundere,” to cast, and not “exprimere,” nor
“emendare.” In the passage about Lysistratus, then, “forma” would seem
to mean a model, or core, like the shoemaker’s last, on which the wax
was spread for the purpose of emending or improving something. What is
that something which Pliny tells us he improved by this means? What
can it be except the “imaginem,” the likeness? There is no other word
to which “emendare” can refer. If, then, we understand the passage
as meaning that Lysistratus modeled a likeness in gypsum, and then
improved it or finished it in wax which he spread over the gypsum, the
statement is quite intelligible, and not a word is warped from its
correct significance. If we adopt the other interpretation, however,
we must understand “imaginem gypso expressit” to mean that he made a
mould in gypsum, contrary to the direct force of the words; and with
wax poured into that mould (making “formam” equivalent to “imaginem,”
and referring to it) he emended or improved—something. What? Why, the
mould,—which is absurd. Again, we cannot begin by making “imaginem”
mean the cast, before the “formam” or mould is made; not only because
the practical process is thus reversed, but because then we should
have a cast in plaster made by pouring wax into the mould, which is
even more absurd. Taking “forma” to have in this sentence any of its
meanings except “mould,” we have no difficulty in understanding it;
taking it as “mould,” we are forced to change the primary significance
of “imaginem” and “expressit,” and are involved in very serious
questions.

In addition to these considerations, it must not be forgotten that
this cast of gypsum, according to Mr. Perkins’s interpretation of the
sentence, was made not of the face alone (“vultus”) which is by no
means an easy process, but of the whole figure (“facie”), which is a
very hazardous one, and to which, with all the knowledge and experience
of the present day in casting, few people would be willing to submit.

A passage of Alcimus Avitus, in his poem “De Origine Mundi” (lib. 1,
6, 75), throws a clear light on the process which seems here to be
described as the invention of Lysistratus:—

   “Hæc ait, et fragilem dignatus tangere terram
    Temperat humentem conspersa pulvere limum
    Molliturque novum dives sapientia corpus
    Non aliter quam opifex diuturno exercitus usu.
    _Flectere laxatas per cuncta sequacia ceras
    Et vultus complere rudes aut corpora gypso
    Fingere_ vel segni speciem componere massa
    Sic Pater Omnipotens.”

Here we have the body modeled (“fingere” is to model) in gypsum, and
the ductile “cera” spread over all the undulations, and the rude face
finished, just as Pliny describes it.

Let us now consider the next sentence, in which he says, “Hic et
similitudinem reddere instituit, ante eum quam pulcherrimum facere
studebant.” This certainly has nothing to do with casting. It is very
important as throwing a reflex light on the previous sentence. The
whole stress of the passage is to bring out the fact that Lysistratus
made portraits. He used a peculiar process, perhaps, but his specialty
was that he made portraits from life (“imaginem hominis e facie ipsa”),
which he worked up in wax (“emendare cera”); and not only this, but his
portraits were exact likenesses (“similitudinem reddere instituit”),
and not merely ideal figures like those of the artists who preceded him
(“ante eum quam pulcherrimum facere studebant”).

A slight glimpse at the history of the art will clear up this matter.
In the early period of sculpture, only statues of divinities were
made, and up to a comparatively late time these archaic figures were
copied for religious and superstitious reasons, and the old formal
hieratic type was strictly observed. It was not until the 58th Olympiad
that iconic statues began to be made in honor of the victors in the
national games, and these for the greater part were rather portraits
of the peculiarities of general physical developments than of the
face. Portrait statues of distinguished men now began to be made,
but they were very few in number, and only exceptionally allowed
by the state. The first iconic statues, representing Harmodius and
Aristogeiton, were made in 509 B. C. by Antenor. Phidias followed
(480 to 432 B. C.), and during his period the grand style was in
its culmination, and for the most part divinities or demigods only
were thought worthy subjects for a great sculptor. Iconic statues
were, however, executed during this period, and among the legendary
heroes and divinities who formed the subjects of the thirteen statues
erected at Delphi and executed by Phidias out of the Persian spoils,
the portrait of Miltiades was allowed,[11] but the erection of public
portrait statues was very rarely permitted, and the introduction by
Phidias of his own portrait and that of Pericles among the combatants
wrought upon the shield of his ivory and gold statue of Athena
occasioned a prosecution against him for impiety. It is said that
Phidias, in his statue of a youth binding his hair with a fillet,
made the portrait of Pantarces, an Elean who was enamored of the
great sculptor, and who obtained the victory at the Olympian games
in the 86th Olympiad (B. C. 435). But this story, which is given by
Pausanias, rests, even by his own account, purely on tradition, and
was apparently founded upon a supposed resemblance between Pantarces
and the statue. Portraiture in its true sense, however, now began, and
soon after the death of Phidias, about the 90th Olympiad, Demetrius
obtained celebrity as a portrait sculptor. He seems to have been the
first to introduce the realistic school of portraiture, copying so
carefully from life, particularly in his likenesses of old persons,
that he was reproved for being too faithful to Nature. Quinctilian
accuses him of being “nimius in veritate” (xii. 10); Lucian in his
“Philopseudes” calls him an ἀνθρωποποιός, and, describing a statue by
him of Pelichus the Corinthian, says it was αὐτῷ ἀνθρώπῳ ὁμοῖον,—like
the very man himself. Callimachus, also, at the same period obtained
the nickname of Κατατηξίτεχνος, on account of the extreme detail and
finish of his works. These artists flourished nearly a century before
Lysistratus; and Pliny therefore is incorrect in his sweeping statement
that before the time of Lysistratus sculptors had only endeavored to
make their statues as beautiful as possible, and not to give accurate
portraits. Still, these men must be considered as exceptions to the
general practice, and it was not until the time of Alexander that
portrait-sculpture in the sense of accurate likeness was developed.
Up to that period it still was heroic, generalized, and ideal in its
character, with comparatively little individuality or detail. The
portrait statues, for instance, of the Royal Family by Leochares (372
B. C.), and that of Mausolus (about 350 B. C.) on the famous Mausoleum
erected by Artemisia, were treated in this style. Lysippus, however,
during the reign of Alexander of Macedon, by his great talent gave a
new impulse and development to the school of portraiture, and while
retaining the heroic character he gave a more realistic truth to his
works. Pliny speaks of him as distinguished for the finish of his work
in the remotest details,—“argutiæ operum custoditæ in minimis rebus.”
In his portraits of Alexander he represented even the defects of his
royal patron, such as the stoop of his head sideways. Such was his
skill that Alexander declared “that none but Apelles should represent
him in color, and none but Lysippus in marble.” Lysistratus was the
brother of Lysippus, and Pliny says that he introduced the practice of
making portraits which were not merely heroic and ideal likenesses, but
faithful representations of the real men. In attributing to Lysistratus
the introduction of this practice of individual portraiture, Pliny
undoubtedly goes beyond the real facts. He did not introduce the
practice, he merely developed it by a peculiar process, giving
additional verisimilitude thereby. This process was roughly modeling
the likeness in plaster, and then finishing the surface and the details
in the “cera” with which he covered it.

In painting, the sphere of portraiture was larger than in sculpture,
and subject apparently to no such restrictions. The earliest portrait
on record by any great painter was not of hero, philosopher, or
athlete, but of Elpinice, the daughter of Miltiades and the mistress
of Polygnotus, who painted her portrait as Laodice, one of the
daughters of Priam, in his famous picture representing the “Rape of
Cassandra,” in the Pœcile at Athens. This picture was executed about
463 B. C., when Elpinice must have been at least thirty-five years of
age. Dionysius of Colophon was also a distinguished portrait-painter
and celebrated for his excessive finish. Nicephorus Chumnus, the
grammarian, describes Apelles and Lysippus as making and painting Ζῶσας
εἰκώνας καὶ πνοῆς μόνης καὶ κινήσεως ἀπολειπόμενας,—being likenesses
only wanting breath and motion. For one of his portraits of Alexander
Apelles received twenty talents of gold (£5,000), which was measured,
not counted, out to him. He also painted the portraits of Campaspe and
Phryne in the character of Venus, taking the face from Campaspe and the
nude figure from Phryne. Speaking of Apelles, Pliny himself relates in
his thirty-sixth book that “he painted portraits so exact to the life
that one of those persons called Metoscopi, who divine events from the
features of men, was enabled, on examining his portraits, to foretell
the hour of the death of the person represented.” And this monstrous
story Pliny apparently accepts. At all events, he does not question it.
Parrhasius, “the most insolent and arrogant of artists,” says Pliny,
“painted a portrait of himself and dedicated it in a public temple
to Mercury; and though the Athenians had publicly proceeded against
Phidias for so doing, they allowed it to Parrhasius, thus plainly
showing that the dignity of sculpture was higher than that of painting.”

But to return from this digression to the consideration of the passage
by Pliny relating to portraiture in modeling and sculpture. In the
sentence immediately following, Pliny goes on to say, “Idem et de
signis effigiem exprimere invenit, crevitque res in tantum, ut nulla
signa statuæve sine argilla fierent,”—Lysistratus also made copies
from statues, and this practice came so into vogue that no statues
in brass or marble were made without white clay. What the meaning
of this sentence is we can only guess; as it stands, it is quite
unintelligible. Perhaps he intended to say that Lysistratus set the
fashion of making small copies in clay or terra cotta of all the
statues that were executed. But it is quite possible that he meant
nothing of the kind. It is plain that if Lysistratus had already
invented casting in plaster, it would have been unnecessary to copy
statues in clay, except for the purpose of reduction to statuettes. Mr.
Perkins thinks he may have intended to speak of “esquisses d’argile
[maquettes] dont se servent les sculpteurs comme point de départ,
esquisse reproduite plus tard en marbre et avec la mise aux points.”
But there was nothing new in this; and surely Lysistratus could not
be said to have invented, or set the fashion of, a process which
certainly had been employed very long before his time. And again, why
make a small statue in clay and enlarge it proportionally in marble, if
you can make it at once in full size and cast it? Nor does Mr. Perkins
seem to be aware that in adopting this view, and translating as he does
“de signis effigiem exprimere,”—to make a small model or maquette in
clay,—he abandons his explanation of the sentence referring to gypsum.
For if “effigiem argilla exprimere” means, as he says, to make a model
in clay, why does not “imaginem gypso exprimere” mean to make a model
in plaster? Besides, the fact that Pliny applies the same terms to a
process in clay as to one in plaster at once puts an end to the matter
so far as the question of casting goes. Clay is not a material to cast
with, in any proper sense of that term.

Another objection to this interpretation that Pliny meant a maquette,
“esquisse,” or sketch is that “effigies” did not mean sketch. It
carried with it nearly the significance of our own word effigy,—of
great reality of imitation. “Imago” was a vaguer word, and might
indicate a delusive resemblance as by painting; but “effigiem” was
ordinarily employed to designate a more absolute imitation. Thus
Cicero says, “Nos vere juris germanæ justitiæ que solidam et expressam
effigiem nullam tenemus. Umbra et imaginibus utimur.”[12] And again,
“Consectatur nullam eminentem effigiem virtutis sed adumbratam
imaginem gloriæ.” “Effigies” would, therefore, carry no such idea as
that of sketch.

Besides, not only is “effigies” not the correct word for sketch, but
Pliny would scarcely have used it in this sense, when immediately
afterwards, speaking of the sketches of Arcesilaus, which sold for more
than the finished works of other artists, he employs the appropriate
term for sketches,—“proplasma.” In the translation of Pliny, published
by Mr. Bohn, and made by Mr. Bostick and Mr. Riley, this term is
translated “models in plaster;” but it simply means sketches or
antijicta, in whatever material they were made. The words “plastæ”
and “plasma” have nothing to do with plaster. “Plastæ” were simply
modelers, and πλαστική was the art of modeling,—the plastic art.

Again, Pliny could scarcely have intended to say that Lysistratus
invented modeling sketches of statues in clay before executing them
in plaster, since he tells us explicitly that Pasiteles used to say
that _plastice_ was the mother of _statuaria, scalptura, et cælatura_;
and, though he was distinguished as first in all these arts, he never
executed anything in them until he had first modeled it in clay,—“nihil
unquam fecit, antequam finxit.”

Before leaving this sentence, let us take a different view of its
possible meaning. May not Pliny use the words “signa” and “signis” to
mean pictures and not statues? Undoubtedly “signum” was thus used,
as where Plautus speaks of a “signum pictum in parieti,”—a picture
painted on the wall; or where Virgil speaks of a “pallam signis auroque
rigentem,”—a mantle stiff with embroidered figures and gold. In this
sense the passage would mean that Lysistratus made effigies from
pictures as well as from statues, and that thenceforward not only no
statues but no pictures were made without being copied in bas-relief,
or in the round, argilla, or white clay. This would account for the use
of the word “effigiem,” which has a stronger significance of reality
than “imaginem.”

The succeeding sentence is even more obscure; and, unless it be
interpolated or out of its proper place, is quite unintelligible.
In the connection in which it now stands it is absurd. It is as
follows: “Quo apparet antiquiorem hanc fuisse scientiam quam fundendi
æris,”—by which it seems that this knowledge or practice was older
than that of casting in bronze. What is the “scientiam” to which he
refers? He has previously spoken only of two: first, that of making
portraits in plaster and wax; second, that of making copies of statues
in clay,—both, as he says, invented or introduced into practice by
Lysistratus. But to say that that artist could have invented any
process older than that of casting in bronze is not only ridiculous in
itself, but inconsistent with what he has previously told us; since at
least two centuries previous to the time of Lysistratus, Rhœcus and
Theodorus of Samos—as we learn from Pausanias, Herodotus, and even
Pliny himself—exercised the art of casting in bronze. Pausanias,[13]
indeed, tells us that these sculptors invented this art; but Pliny,
with his usual inaccuracy and carelessness, says that they invented
“plastice,” or the art of modeling (“In Samo primos omnium plasticen
invenisse Rhœcum et Theodorum,” ch. xxxv.),—an art which from the very
nature of things must have been practiced from the earliest and rudest
ages, almost from the time when the first child made the first mud-pie.

Dr. Brunn,[14] in commenting on this passage in Pliny, accepts the
first sentence as describing the art of casting in plaster, but,
finding it impossible to reconcile it with the subsequent sentences,
ingeniously suggests that it was an addition inserted in the margin,
and afterwards interpolated into the text by the copyists in the wrong
place. Throwing out this first sentence about Lysistratus from this
place, he still accepts it, and interprets it to mean that Lysistratus
invented the art of casting. The subsequent sentences he connects with
a previous passage in Pliny, in which he gives an account of Dibutades
of Sicyon, a potter by trade, and relates the legend that this artist
drew the outline of the face of a girl whom he loved from her shadow on
the wall, and his father pressed clay upon it within those outlines,
and made a _typum_ which he baked. The passage, according to Dr.
Brunn, then would continue: “He [Dibutades] also invented the making of
effigies from signa, and this practice so increased that thenceforward
no statues or signa were made without argilla; so that it appears
that this art was more ancient than that of casting in bronze.” By
accepting this suggestion of Dr. Brunn we certainly relieve Pliny of
the absurdity of stating that any “scientiam” or practice invented
by Lysistratus was older than casting in bronze, since centuries
before his time bronze figures of colossal proportions had been cast.
But even supposing these sentences to refer to Dibutades and not to
Lysistratus, they are far from being clear or accurate. Is it possible
to believe that, while the making of brick and earthenware utensils and
fictile vases is so ancient that the memory of man runneth not to the
contrary, no one before Dibutades had ever attempted to model a figure
or a face in clay, or to put a model into a furnace and bake it? All
history is against such a supposition. Images in terra cotta were made
by the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, and Ephesians centuries before
Dibutades. The ancient Etruscan terra cottas previous to his epoch were
scattered, as Pliny himself says, all over the world: “Signa Tuscanica
per terras dispersa.” The capitol was decorated with earthen statues at
the time of the first Tarquin, and Pausanias mentions many clay statues
of gods and demigods executed in the earliest ages of Greece itself.

Again, from this very passage it is clear that Pliny himself admits
that there were _signa_ and _statuæ_ already existing at the time of
Dibutades, of which he first made effigies. What did Dibutades invent?
Certainly not the art of modeling in clay, or of baking the clay. His
statement, also, that thenceforward no statues were made without clay
is scarcely intelligible, unless we suppose him to mean that clay
models were made thenceforward before executing statues in stone or
other materials. But he does not say this. Again, he cannot mean that
Dibutades first invented taking impressions from indented outlines, or
_intaglii_, for this was as old as the first primitive seal, and was no
more invented by Dibutades than by Lysistratus.

Dr. Brunn interprets the statement in respect to Dibutades as showing
that he was probably the first inventor of casting, at the same time
that he also interprets the sentences referring to Lysistratus as
declaring that he first invented casting,—the only difference being
that the process of the one was in clay, and that of the other in
plaster.

But is it clear that Dibutades, according to Pliny, ever made even
a stamp in clay from indented outlines on the wall? The passage is
ordinarily so interpreted, but is this interpretation correct? Pliny
says that Dibutades having traced the shadow on the wall in outline,
his father impressed clay within that outline, and thus made a
_typum_ which he baked with other articles of earth, and which was
long afterwards preserved in the Nymphæum at Corinth. His words are,
“quibus lineis pater ejus impressa argilla typum fecit.” What, then,
is the meaning of “typum”? Evidently not a mould, or impression, but a
relief. Had it been a mould, he could have stamped from it a hundred
impressions, since it would have been merely a seal with an irregularly
relieved outline; and in order to have the repetition of what was on
the wall he must perforce have stamped from it an impression. This he
evidently did not do, or at least nothing is said to indicate anything
of the kind. He preserved and baked what he first obtained, which,
if it was merely a mould, would have produced, to say the least, no
effect. The true as well as the literal translation of this passage
would seem to be, “within the outlines by putting on clay he made a
relief.” This clay he probably modeled as well as he could, keeping
within the lines, and then removed it from the wall and baked it. The
same interpretation of this passage is given by Giovanni Battista
Adriani, in a remarkable essay or rather letter addressed by him
to Giorgio Vasari in 1567, in which he gives a summary of the most
celebrated Greek artists and their works. “Typus” in Latin had the
double significance of “intaglio” and “relievo,” as our word “type”
has of the type itself and the printed impression; and sometimes it
was used in one sense and sometimes in the other, but it was usually
employed to mean a relief. Thus Cicero, in one of his letters to
Atticus (lib. i. ep. 10), writes, “Præterea typos tibi mando quos in
tectorio atrioli possim includere,”—I commission you also to procure me
some reliefs to be inserted in the plaster of the anteroom. And Pliny
in this passage would plainly seem to use the word in the same sense;
otherwise he would probably have written “forma,” as he did in other
cases when he meant a mould. Not that even that word would be free from
all ambiguity, but it would more appropriately signify a mould.

But however ingenious is the suggestion of Dr. Brunn that the passages
relating to Lysistratus ought to belong to Dibutades, the fact is that
in all editions of Pliny they are connected with Lysistratus; and as
this suggestion does not dispose of all difficulties and clear up the
matter, we will proceed to consider them in that relation, and see if
anything can be made clearly out of them.

Plainly, if the “scientiam” here spoken of refers to the invention of
Lysistratus, and is interpreted to be the art of casting in plaster,
it is ridiculously incorrect to say that it was older than casting
in brass. If that invention be of modeling in plaster, it is also
entirely incorrect. We know that this was practiced at least a century
previous,—as, for instance, in the construction of the great statue of
Zeus at Megara, the body of which was of plaster and clay, the head
alone being cased in gold and ivory; and also of the Bacchus in painted
plaster, of which Pausanias speaks.

The only way in which we can explain the statement that any “scientiam”
or process described by Pliny as used by Lysistratus was older than
the art of casting in bronze, is by supposing he meant to say that the
process he employed was in itself an old one, and that it was only in
the practical application to the making of portraits that there was
any novelty,—the process of covering a core of plaster with wax being
older than casting in bronze, while covering a sketch of plaster with
wax and then working that surface up from life was new. The statement
so understood would be intelligible at least, and, as far as we know,
perfectly correct. The method of the ancients in casting bronze statues
is not described by any ancient writer, but it is supposed to have been
this: A fire-proof core was first built up of plaster, clay, earth,
or other materials, and over this a thin and even coating of wax or
pitch was spread; or perhaps, which is not so probable, the surface was
rasped down to the thickness intended for the bronze, and afterwards
covered with a thin coating of wax. In either case the result would be
the same. The outside of this wax being then completely covered with
sand or packed clay-dust, there would be a thin coating of wax inclosed
between the two surfaces, which, melting away before the fused metal,
would allow that metal to take its place. This would account for the
remarkable thinness and evenness of the ancient bronzes; for by such
a method the core would be perfect, and the artist would naturally
put on as little wax as possible. If we suppose the statue, after it
was nearly completed in plaster or clay, not to have been rasped down
but simply to have been covered with wax, we shall see that the result
would be that the bronze cast would be a little fuller in size and
thicker in proportions than the original model. And this is a peculiar
characteristic of the ancient bronzes, especially to be observed in the
limbs and joints, which are generally larger and puffier in bronze than
in marble statues.

Now if Pliny meant to say of Lysistratus that his method of modeling
portraits by making a plaster figure or core, and covering the surface
with wax, was older than that of casting in bronze, he was quite
right; for undoubtedly the process of covering a core with wax must
have preceded that of casting in bronze, or at least must have been
coincident with it. But at the same time this method had previously
been used only, or at least chiefly, in casting; whereas Lysistratus
was the first to use it for modeling from life and carefully finishing
every part. The process was old; the application was new.

Thus far in considering this passage we have proceeded on the
hypothesis that the “cera” spoken of was wax. But another and quite
different view is also possible, and seems in all probability to be the
correct one. Pliny may mean to refer to quite a different thing, and
by the term “cera” may have meant not wax but color. “Ceræ” was the
common term for a painter’s colors, and Pliny himself thus uses it in
defining encaustic painting: “Ceris pingere et picturam inurere.” Varro
also says, “Pictores locutulas magnas habent arculas ubi discolores
sunt ceræ.” Statius also uses the same term when he says, “Apelleæ
cuperent te scribere ceræ.” Anacreon, in his odes, constantly uses
κηρός for picture; as, for instance,—

    Ἔρωτα κήρινόν τις
    Νεηνίης ἐπώλει.

Here it is not a waxen figure, but a wax, or oil,—that is, a painting
of Eros, not an ἀγάλμα. And in the same ode the youth replies in Doric,
“Οὐκ εἰμὶ κηροτέχνης”—“I am not a painter;” or even more manifestly in
the ode beginning,—

    Ἄγε ζωγράφων ἄριστε,
    γράφε, ζωγράφων ἄριστε,
    Ῥοδίης κοίρανε τέχνης,
    ἀπεοῦσαν, ὡς ἂν εἴπω,
    γράφε τὴν ἐμὴν ἑταίρην.
    γράφε μοι τρίχας τὸ πρῶτον
    ἁπαλάς τε καὶ μελαίνας·
    ὁ δὲ κηρὸς ἂν δύνηται,
    γράφε καὶ μύρου πνεούσας.

And again,—

    ἀπέχει· Βλέπω γὰρ αὐτήν.
    τάχα, κηρὲ, καὶ λαλήσεις.

Wax was the common medium used by painters. After it had been purified
and blanched, their colors were mixed with it just as ours are with
oil; and in like manner, as we speak of painting in oils, they spoke of
painting in wax. A head done in chalk would no more necessarily mean
a head modeled in chalk or plaster, than “imaginem [or effigiem] cera
expressam” would mean a likeness modeled in wax.

The substances on which the ancients painted were wood, clay, plaster,
stone, parchment, and perhaps canvas. The best painters, however,
rarely painted on anything but tablets or panels. “Nulla gloria
artificum est nisi eorum qui tabulas pinxere,” says Pliny (xxxv. 37).
These panels were of wood; they were prepared for painting by spreading
over them chalk or white plaster (gypsum), and on that account were
called “λεύκωμα.” All the paintings on walls were also on plaster
covered with a composition of chalk and marble dust, as is fully
described by Vitruvius.[15]

Let us now apply these facts to Pliny’s statement. May he not intend
to say, and is not this a legitimate meaning of his words, that
Lysistratus first of all modeled portraits in gypsum from life, and
then increased the likeness by color laid on to the plaster bust.
He also made colored copies or effigies from brass statues (which
were called, as we know, “ceræ”), and these came so into vogue that
thenceforward there were no statues without white clay or chalk,
which, as we have seen, was a preparation for the wax color as shown
by Vitruvius. In this view of his meaning, the statement that this
peculiar process is older than that of casting in bronze becomes
intelligible, if we suppose him to intend to say that coloring statues
was a very old process, while coloring portraits in exact imitation
of life was the invention of Lysistratus. The succeeding sentence
then becomes clear, in which he says that the most famous plastæ were
Damophilus and Gorgasus, who were also painters, and who decorated the
Temple of Ceres at Rome in both these arts, since it is plain that
these works were both modeled and painted.

The making of portraits in effigy, colored in imitation of life, had
been a common practice in Rome, as we learn from Pliny himself, and
these, because they were colored, were technically called “ceræ” as
well as “imagines.” It was the custom of the great families to set
up these colored figures in their atria, and on particular festivals
to carry them in procession through the streets of Rome, draped with
actual robes such as were worn by the persons whom they represented.
Pliny expresses his regret that in his time this custom had fallen into
disuse, tending as it did to keep fresh and alive the personal memory
of great men who had passed away from this life.[16]

It will be useful here to consider the character of the whole chapter
in which this passage appears. It is entitled, “Plastices primi
inventores, de simulacris, et vasis fictilibus et pretio eorum.” The
object of the chapter is to give an account of modeling and modelers,
not of casting. In a previous chapter, where Pliny is speaking of
some early products of the plastic art, and particularly of the
_signa Tuscanica_, or earthenware statues, he says: “It appears to me
a singular fact, that, though the origin of statues was of such great
antiquity in Italy, the images of the gods, which were consecrated
to them in their temples, should have been fashioned of wood or
earthenware, until the conquest of Asia introduced luxury among us.
It will be most convenient to speak of the art of making likenesses
[_similitudines exprimendi_] when we come to speak of what the Greeks
call ‘plastice,’ for the art of modeling was prior to that of statuary
of bronze and marble,—[_prior quam statuaria fuit_]. But this last art
has flourished in such an infinite degree that to pursue the subject
thoroughly would require many volumes.” Thus he announces clearly
beforehand what he intends to speak of in this chapter which we are now
considering, on plasticæ. It is the art of “making likenesses, of the
first invention of modeling, of fictile vases, and of their price,”
but not of casting or of any such invention. The previous chapter, in
which this announcement is made of his subsequent intention, is devoted
to casting in bronze and brass-work, or statuaria. After making this
statement, he goes on to enumerate the principal works in bronze, and
then says that portrait statues were long afterwards placed in the
Forum and in the atria of private houses; that clients thus did honor
to their patrons, and that in former times the statues thus dedicated
were dressed in togas: “Togatæ effigies antiquitus ita dicabantur;” or
ought not “dicabantur” to be _dicebantur_,—meaning that these statues
were called “togatæ effigies”?

In the chapter we are now considering, he begins by saying that,
having already said enough about pictures, he now proposes to append
some account of the plastic art. Then he speaks of Dibutades, and
relates the story of his making the portrait of the girl he loved;
and adds that he first invented a method of coloring his works in
pottery by adding red earth or red chalk. Then follows the passage
about Lysistratus, who used plaster instead of clay to make portraits,
covering it with wax or color to improve the resemblance. After the
passages cited, he goes on to mention other celebrated modelers
(_plastæ laudatissimi_), among whom were Damophilus and Gorgasus,
who were also painters, and who adorned the Temple of Ceres at Rome
by the exercise of both their arts. According to Varro, he says,
everything in the temples was _Tuscanica_,—that is, ancient pottery of
the Etruscan school; and when they were repaired the painted coatings
of the walls were removed and framed. He also mentions Chalcosthenes,
who executed several works in baked earth. He cites Varro again as
saying that Possis at Rome executed grapes, fruit, and fishes with such
truth to Nature that they could not be distinguished from the real
things. Dibutades, he also says, invented a method of coloring plastic
composition by adding red earth.

Throughout the chapter Pliny is not speaking solely of modelers, but
most of those he mentions colored their works. The grapes, fruit,
and fishes of Possis, the works of Damophilus and Gorgasus, the
_Tuscanica_ in the temples, all were colored in imitation of the
objects represented. And besides these he mentions particularly the
Jupiter of Pasiteles, made in clay, “et ideo miniari solitum,”—and
therefore proper for painting in vermilion. He also speaks of
“figlina opera,”—earthenware painted in encaustic,—which were on
the baths of Agrippa in Rome. All this seems to lend probability
to the interpretation of “cera” to mean color and not wax; at all
events, there is not a word about casting, unless the words relating
to Lysistratus can be tortured into such a meaning. What adds still
more to the probability that this was the real thought of Pliny in
the passage cited is the use of the words “effigies” and “argilla.”
“Effigies” in Latin is distinguished from “simulacrum” (which may be
a picture as well as a statue), both being representations indicating
something which shows they are not life itself, the one being flat and
the other colorless; while “effigies” carries the idea of deception
with it, so far as resemblance goes. Thus Cicero says, “Vidistis
non fratrem tuum nec vestigium quidem aut simulacrum, sed effigiem
quamdam spirantis mortui.” So, also, “argilla” means white clay, and
not ordinary clay out of which terra cotta images were made; and
Pliny may have intended by these words to express the idea that
after Lysistratus had made effigies or colored copies of brass or
marble statues, white clay was constantly used, for the reason that
it was manifestly better for coloring. This would relieve him from
the absurdity of saying that Lysistratus invented or led the way
in modeling in clay, rather than in the use of white clay which he
colored. Argilla and gypsum would then be nearly the same thing, both
used as a basis for colored walls, upon which “cera” or color was
laid or infused. This would clear up the subsequent statement that
this art was older than casting in bronze, since it is plain that
coloring statues was very ancient. Pausanias mentions two,—one of the
Ephesian Diana and one of Bacchus in wood, gilt except the faces,—which
were painted with vermilion. So, in the Wisdom of Solomon (ch. xiii.
and xv.), images of wood and clay are spoken of, painted in red and
vermilion and stained with divers colors; and in 630 B. C. there were
images in gold, silver, stone, and wood in Babylon (Baruch, ch. vi. and
xiii.), painted and gilded and dressed, and colored purple.

In his chapter entitled “Honos Imaginum,”—the honor attached to
portraits,—Pliny says it was the custom of the Romans to adorn
their palæstra and anointing-rooms with the portraits of athletes
(“imaginibus athletarum”), and to carry about on their persons the
face of Epicurus (“vultus Epicuri”); and that they also prized the
portraits of strangers (“alienasque effigies colunt”). Afterwards,
contrasting the habits of the Romans of his own day with those of
the ancient Romans, he says: “And since the former have no longer in
them any likeness to the minds of their ancestors, they also neglect
the likeness of their bodies. How different it was,” he continues,
“with our ancestors, who placed in their atria to be gazed at these
‘imagines,’ and not statues by foreign artists in brass or marble, and
kept colored portraits of their faces each in its separate case, to
serve as ‘imagines’ to accompany their funerals.”[17] It would seem
from this that, besides the draped images or effigies in the halls,
modeled and colored busts of others of the family, probably of less
distinction, were also kept to be dressed up on occasion, made into
effigies, and carried in procession. Other “imagines” of the most
distinguished personages in the family were placed outside at the
threshold of the house, hung with the spoils of the enemy.

It is of these “expressi cera vultus” and these “imagines” kept by the
Romans as proofs of their nobility, and on which their pedigrees were
inscribed, that Ovid speaks when he says,—

    “Per lege dispositas generosa per atria ceras.”

On the sale of the house they were not allowed to be destroyed or
removed, but passed with it, and were bought by “novi homines” (men
of no family), and passed off by them as the portraits of their own
ancestors,—just as the portraits of Wardour Street are at the present
day. Cicero in his invective against Piso cries out, “Obrepsisti ad
honores errore hominum, commendatione fumosarum imaginum, quarum simile
habes nihil præter _colorem_;” and Sallust in his Jugurtha says, “Quia
imagines non habeo, et quia mihi nova nobilitas est.”

Nor were the Romans singular in this custom of draping figures with
real stuffs. The images of the gods in early Greece also were draped
and dressed in clothes, and crowns were placed on their heads. They
had false hair, too, which was dressed regularly by attendants, and
at stated times they were washed and adorned with jewels and had
their dresses arranged, just as if they were alive. In later times
this custom died out; but the colossal Athena’s solid drapery of gold
was washed at a certain festival appointed for the purpose, called
Plyntheria. In Rome, however, the custom was maintained to a late day.
The images of the temples were adorned with real drapery, and purple
mantles were hung on the statues of the emperors. The Greeks did not
thus treat their portrait statues, and in this the Romans were peculiar.

The Roman “imagines” and “ceræ” were probably executed in plaster or
some such material, certainly not in marble, or otherwise they would
have been too heavy to be carried about in procession. Apparently they
resembled the figures which Lysistratus first began to make, and the
process of coloring them, if we understand “cera” to mean color, was
little else than the old practice, called “circumlitio,” of covering
marble statues with an encaustic varnish of color so as to give them
a delicate and tinted surface. The most salient example of this is to
be found in the anecdote told of Praxiteles, who, when he was asked
which of his statues he most admired, answered, “Those that Nicias has
colored,”—“quibus Nicias manum admovisset,”—Nicias, who in his youth
was celebrated as a painter of statues, ἀγαλμάτων ἐγκαυστής, having
assisted him, “in statuis circumliendis.” A similar process, called
καύσις, was also employed in finishing walls, and is thus described by
Vitruvius: After the wall had received its color, it was covered with
Punic wax and oil, which was laid on evenly with a hard brush, and then
half melted or infused into a smooth surface by moving a “cauterium,”
or pan of hot coals, close over it; and after that it was rubbed with a
candle and a clean linen cloth.

This process, then, was old as applied to marble statues and to plaster
walls. What was new in the work of Lysistratus was that he united the
two methods, by modeling in plaster the general likeness and then
finishing the surface in encaustic. It was an old process with a new
application.

To explain such a process, what could be clearer than the words Pliny
uses? We do not need to warp a word from its ordinary significance.
Lysistratus made portraits in plaster from life, and improved them by
color laid on to the model. He thus made realistic, exact resemblances,
whereas before him artists had sought only to make heads as beautiful
as possible.

What, then, were the “effigies de signis” that he made? We have already
seen that the term “effigies” had a significance of reality and
absolute imitation, and corresponded in great measure to the English
word effigy, meaning colored effigies with real dresses,—like those of
Madame Tussaud, for instance. The “imagines” and “ceræ” of the ancient
Romans were very much like them; and does not Pliny mean to say that
Lysistratus copied marble or brass statues, or pictures, and made these
effigies from them, coloring them so as to add to the likeness, and
clothing them with real draperies? and that this so grew into vogue
that thenceforward there were no statues which were not thus copied
in plaster or “argilla”?—using the term “argilla,” or white clay,
as equivalent to gypsum, with which possibly the plaster was mixed.
As “argilla” was the foundation with which the ancient panels were
prepared for painting, this would seem most appropriate in such case.

Such would be the figures alluded to by Lucian, or by Lexiphanes when
he says, “If you cull the flower of all these various beauties, you
will in your eloquence be like those makers of figures in wax and clay
[or argilla] in the Forum, colored outside with minium and blue, and
inside only fragile clay.”

According to this interpretation of the passage in Pliny, it not
only becomes intelligible as a whole, but is consistent and without
contradiction; whereas, if we suppose that he meant to indicate the
process of casting in plaster, his statements are not only entirely
obscure and inconsecutive, but ignorant and contradictory.


II.

In the previous chapter we have critically considered the text of Pliny
bearing upon the question whether the ancient Greeks and Romans were
acquainted with the art of casting. Let us now proceed to some general
considerations as to the probability that this art was known and
practiced by them.

In the first place, the distinction between modeling and casting must
be constantly kept in mind, and care must be taken not to confound
the two totally different terms “mould” and “model.” That gypsum was
used in modeling there can be no doubt, and it is quite possible that
it may have been used to fill prepared moulds of stone, terra cotta,
or other materials for the making of ectypa. There is indeed no proof
of this; but as we know that moulds were made and cut in stone, into
which clay was pressed, to be then withdrawn and baked for ectypa with
which to adorn houses, so also it is possible that gypsum may have
been used for this purpose. This, however, is merely a supposition,
and the fact that none of them have ever been found in plaster renders
it highly improbable. In these ectypa of clay, as well as in the
impressions taken from them, there are no indications of anything like
what we call a piece-mould, composed of many sections; and whenever
there are under-cuttings in the ectypa, which could not be withdrawn
from the mould and which would fasten them into it, these parts of the
ectypa are invariably worked by hand. For instance, in the collection
of Mr. Fol in Rome there are several terra cotta figures of low relief
evidently stamped from a mould, which are appliqué, or fastened
subsequently to the cista of which they form a part. The sutures under
each figure are still visible, but they are all corrected and worked
by hand after being withdrawn, and have evidently suffered in being
removed from the mould. In the same collection there are several
specimens of plaster reliefs, with such deep under-cuttings that they
could not have been withdrawn from a single piece-mould; but all these
under-cuttings are freely worked by hand, showing plainly that they
were not in the stamp or mould; and it is also clear that they were
afterwards worked over with fluid plaster, the edges and flats of
which have not been rounded, but left as it was freely laid on by hand.
It is probable that in these cases plaster was pressed into a mould in
the same manner as clay, and afterwards worked up and finished. But the
slightest examination will show clearly that if a mould was employed to
give a general form to them, it certainly was not a piece-mould; and
that they are not castings in the modern sense of the word, but only
rude stamps.

These are the only specimens, however, so far as we are aware, of
any such use of plaster for low-relief ornaments,—the ectypa which
have been preserved to us being invariably of baked clay. If plaster
had been used for this purpose, we should expect to find casts in the
interior of houses or tombs, where they would be protected from the
weather, and where they could be easily introduced into the walls and
ceilings. But though elaborately ornamented designs in relief, worked
in gypsum, are to be found still fresh and uninjured on the ancient
tombs and baths, all of them were freely and rapidly modeled by hand
while the gypsum was still fresh and plastic, and not a single specimen
of cast plaster has been found. It is but a few years since the tombs
in the Via Latina were opened, and in two of them the ceilings, divided
into compartments, were covered with rich and fantastic designs of
flowers, fruit, arabesques, groups of imaginary animals, sea-nymphs,
and human figures; the designs varying in each compartment, and all
modeled in the plaster with remarkable vivacity and spirit: not one
of them was cast. So in the houses at Pompeii, not a vestige of a
figure or ornament cast in plaster has ever been found,—nor a mould in
plaster; and when one considers that, being completely protected, they
would naturally have survived as well as other far more fragile and
destructible objects which have been preserved, the evidence is almost
absolute that they never could have existed there. If so, it is in the
highest degree probable that they existed nowhere. It would seem plain,
then, that even the first, simplest, and most natural processes of
casting in gypsum were unknown to the ancients, for no other process is
so easy and simple as to fill a flat mould with plaster and then remove
it, provided there are no under-cuttings. In doing this, however, there
is a slight practical difficulty if the mould is in one piece, as the
least under-cutting would render it impossible to remove the cast
without injury or breakage. Indeed, though there were no under-cutting,
it would at least be very difficult to remove the plaster from a mould
in one piece. Clay would be removed with far greater ease because of
its pliancy, and any cracks or imperfections could be at once remedied;
add to this that baked clay is one of the most enduring of materials,
and we have the probable reasons why the ancients used it instead of
gypsum. But whatever may have been their reasons, it is perfectly
clear that they did use clay; and we have no evidence that they ever
used plaster.

This use of gypsum to take impressions from flat moulds is suggested
by Theophrastus, it would seem, in his treatise on mineralogy,[18]
in which he says that plaster “seems better than other materials to
receive impressions.” The term ἀπόμαγμα means nothing more than an
impression, such as one makes in wax from a seal ring, and such as is
common still in plaster; it is to this use that he seems to refer. He
does not say, however, that gypsum was really put to this use; and if
it were, it would advance us little in our inquiry, since any material
which is soft will receive an impression, whether it be bread, pitch,
clay, wax, or any similar substance.

But the step from this simple process of stamping in a shallow mould
to casting from life or from the round is enormous. The difficulties
are multiplied a hundred-fold. It is no longer a simple operation,
but a nice and complicated one. The part to be cast must first be
oiled or soaped, then covered with plaster of about the consistency
of rich cream, then divided into sections while the material is still
tender, so as to enable the mould to be withdrawn part by part without
breakage, then allowed to set, then removed, oiled or soaped on the
interior surface, the parts all properly replaced, fluid plaster poured
into the mould,—and finally, after the cast is set, the mould must be
carefully removed by a hammer and chisel. This is an elaborate process
as applied to an arm or a hand, but when applied to a living face it
is not only difficult but disagreeable, and unless due care be used it
may be dangerous; and after all a cast from the face is hard, forced,
and unnatural in its character and impression, however skillfully it
may be done, and can only serve the sculptor as the basis of his work.
Yet if the common interpretation of the passage in Pliny be accurate,
this is the process which was invented and practiced by Lysistratus,
and by means of which he made portraits. _Credat Judæus!_ With all our
knowledge and practice, we do not find this to answer in our own time.

But to cast from a statue in clay is still more difficult and
complicated; there the extremest care and nicety are required in making
the proper divisions, in extracting the clay and irons, recommitting
the sections, and breaking off the outer shell of the mould. In fact,
the modern process is so complicated that no one can see it without
wondering how it ever came to be so thought out and perfected, or
without being convinced that it must have been slowly arrived at by
many steps and many failures.

That statues were modeled in plaster by the ancients there is no doubt.
Pausanias mentions several;[19] and Spartianus[20] also speaks of
“Three Victories” in plaster, with palms in their hands, erected at
one of the games,—and says that on one of the days of the Circensian
games when according to common custom they were erected, the central
one on which the name of Severus was inscribed, and which bore a globe,
was thrown down by a gust of wind from the podium, and that another
bearing the name of Geta on it also fell and was shattered to pieces.

Firmicus[21] also relates that after Zagreus, son of Jupiter, was slain
by the Titans, his body was cut to pieces and thrown into a cauldron,
from which Minerva rescued the heart and carried it to Jupiter. He then
gave it to Semele, who resuscitated Zagreus, and Jupiter afterwards
preserved his likeness in plaster,—“Ex gypso plastico opere perfecit.”

Mr. Perkins cites all these instances, and says: “They authorize us
to believe that the Greeks and Romans practiced casting in plaster.”
But in saying this he altogether overlooks the very plain distinction
between the two entirely different operations of casting and modeling.
We know that they modeled in plaster; the only question is whether they
_cast_ in that material. The term for casting, as we have stated, was
“fundere,” and is always used when real casting in brass or other metal
is spoken of; but nowhere is the term “fundere” applied to any work
in gypsum. “Ars fundendi æro” is constantly spoken of,—“ars fundendi
gypso” never. Besides, the very phrase “ex gypso plastico opere
perfecit” is at variance with casting. The words “plastico” and “opere”
mean modeling, and nothing else.

But throughout this paper by Mr. Perkins these two completely distinct
processes are constantly confounded with each other. It suffices for
him to find a statement in an ancient writer that anything is made in
plaster, or even an allusion to a plaster statue, and at once he jumps
to the conclusion that the statue was necessarily cast, and not shapen
or modeled.

“It remains for us now,” he says, “to establish by undeniable proof
how little foundation there is for the opinion of those who pretend
that the ancients did not make use of plaster for casting, supporting
their opinion on the complete absence of statues and statuettes
in plaster, or fragments of any kind found in excavations, when
nevertheless thousands of objects of the frailest kind are found, such
as stuccoes, vases, terra cotta, glass, wax heads, etc. If it be true
that the inclemencies of weather and atmospheric agents could cause
the disappearance of plaster saturated with humidity, or placed in
conditions favorable to its destruction, it does not necessarily follow
that these conditions always reproduce themselves. It suffices, to
convince one’s self of this, to _glance at the plates_ 67, 76, 85, in
the magnificent work published at St. Petersburg on the antiquities of
the Cimmerian Bosphorus. These plates represent plasters preserved in
the Museum of the Hermitage, coming from a tomb on Mount Mithridates
opened in 1832, and from another tomb at Kertch excavated in 1843.
These plasters date back to the fourth century before our era.[22]
Adorned with various colors and executed in relief, they were destined
to be attached as ornaments to other objects, such as sarcophagi,
pilasters, walls, etc.”

Well! what if they were? Is this any proof that they were cast? Mr.
Perkins is easily satisfied, if he is assured of this fact by looking
at engraved plates. Are they all of the same size? Are they identical,
as they would be if they were cast from the same mould, or are they
like all other plaster and stucco work of the ancients of which we are
cognizant,—ornaments modeled by hand? or are they pressures from a
flat, shallow mould, like the ectypa? If the latter, they are almost
unique; and so far they prove that the artists who made them understood
this first and simplest process of casting, or rather of stamping.
But from plates it would be impossible to determine this fact, and
Mr. Perkins gives us no reason to think they are unlike all the other
ancient stucco work. He does not profess to have seen and examined them
for himself; at all events, one fact is clear, that these, if they are
in plaster, are painted plaster.

In the British Museum there exist some of these so-called casts in
plaster from Cyrenaica and from Kertch. Undoubtedly they are nearer to
being true casts than anything else which has as yet been discovered;
but, after all, a careful examination of them will show that they are
not casts in the legitimate sense of the word, but merely stamps for
a mould, and fashioned in precisely the same way that was employed in
making the hollow terra cottas. To make these, a very rude stamp was
executed, with no under-cuttings of any kind, everything being filled
up which could impede the removal of the clay, which was pressed into
the stamp, then carefully extracted again and finished by hand. All
the terra cotta reliefs called ectypa were made in this way, and some
of the moulds still exist,—not one of them, however, in plaster. The
same process was employed to make some of the figures of terra cotta
in the round, by making a mould of two pieces divided in the middle,
of a very generalized form, with no under-cuttings. Into each of these
moulds a quantity of clay was squeezed; the two parts were then removed
carefully, and joined together. A general form was thus obtained, and
the artist proceeded to model and to finish it with more or less care.
In this way not only ectypa were made in clay and afterwards baked, but
also small flat ornaments which were afterwards appliqué, or fastened
on to flat or round surfaces,—as on to cista. This is the process by
which fragments of the figures from Cyrenaica and Kertch in the British
Museum were made. The junction of the two halves is clear. The work is
very rude; there are no under-cuttings; everything is filled up which
would in the least impede the withdrawal of the material from the
stamp. There is, for instance, an arm and hand, with the interstices
of the fingers quite filled up. But what clearly proves that these
figures were not cast, as distinguished from stamped, is the head. Here
the hair being adorned with a wreath with under-cuttings, it could not
be withdrawn from the stamp without destroying it, and it is entirely
appliqué, or worked on to the head after it was removed. Had it been
cast, there would have been no such difficulty. Nor, again, is it quite
clear that the material of these figures is pure gypsum. It would
rather seem to be a mixture of gypsum with white clay, or argilla, to
give it flexibility, and enable it to be withdrawn from the mould.
Indeed, it may here be observed that it is in every way probable that
the gypsum used by the ancients in modeling and ornamental work was
differently prepared from that which we now use, and was mixed with
some material which prevented it from setting rapidly, and gave it
strength, ductility, and plasticity. Otherwise it is difficult to see
how such works as those in the tombs of the Via Latina, which no one
can doubt are modeled by hand, could have been executed with at once
so much finish and freedom. Gypsum, as we use it, would set too soon to
enable us to work it in such a manner. In the tombs of the Via Latina
which were lately discovered, it is worked as freely as if it were
clay, and was plainly so prepared as to enable the artist to take his
own time in modeling, without fear of its hardening—or, as we call it,
setting—immediately.

This, then, is nothing new. It is not casting, and these figures are
not casts. They are stamps, just like the ectypa of terra cotta. We
know that κοροκόσμια or dolls were anciently made in this way of wax
and gypsum, or of terra cotta; and these are κοροκόσμια.

To infer from the fact that the Greeks knew and practiced the art
of pressing into shallow moulds of stone, without under-cuttings,
either clay, pitch, wax, or plaster, that they also understood and
practiced the art of making moulds and casts from life or from the
round is utterly unwarrantable. Nothing is more simple than the one
art, while the other is extremely complex. The one is merely like
making an impression from a seal, which would naturally suggest itself
to the first person who left the pressure of his foot in clay or mud;
the other requires various processes of calculation and invention.
In inventions it is not always or ordinarily the first step which
costs, but the subsequent and calculated steps. Centuries often elapse
between the first step and the second. A remarkable instance of this
is to be found in the history of the invention of printing. The first
steps to this wonderful art were taken by the ancient Romans; the
very process by which we now print was known and practiced by them;
but the application of it to the printing of books does not seem to
have occurred to their minds. It cannot, however, but appear most
extraordinary that the idea of printing should not have occurred to
them when we consider the facts of the case. Pliny relates that Cato
published a book containing portraits of distinguished persons of his
time, of which there were many copies; and so far as we can conjecture,
these copies were probably stamped on parchment or some such material,
and afterwards colored. Putting this together with the fact that
ancient bricks have been lately found in Rome with names and numbers
stamped upon them by means of movable types, so that the numbers or
letters could be arranged at will, we might absolutely state that the
ancient Romans understood and practiced the art of printing. They
certainly did print on their brick; they probably stamped the portraits
of cuts in their books,—but so far as we know they never united the
processes, and never stamped a book with movable types. Adopting Mr.
Perkins’s method of argument, we might declare, however, that the mere
fact that none of these printed books have ever come down to us was
entirely inconclusive, since these books might have utterly perished;
while we have the clearest proof that they did print with movable
types on brick, and therefore it is plain that they invented printing.
The step from one of these processes to the other does indeed seem
so evident, so natural, almost so inevitable, that we are puzzled to
imagine how they could ever have overlooked it. Yet there is little
doubt that they did. But from the simple fact of stamping in clay
or plaster to the complex process of making moulds and casts in the
round requires not one step but many, and each one of them requires
calculation and invention. Indeed, if the art were now to be lost, it
would be easy to conceive that centuries might pass before it would be
reinvented.

In the collection of Mr. Fol of Rome, of which we have heretofore
spoken, there are some interesting fragments of ancient statuettes in
the round, very carefully finished in plaster, being the leg and thigh
of one, and the half-breast and a portion of the torso of another.
These are as carefully finished as if they were in marble, but they
are elaborately worked by hand in the plaster, and not cast. These
are exceedingly interesting as showing the method of the ancients
in working in plaster, and they clearly illustrate the process of
Lysistratus as described by Pliny,—the only difference being that the
surface is of gypsum and not of wax, or color. The interior or core
of these fragments, which is solid, is of lime, or a coarse kind of
gypsum, and over the surface of this core is spread a thin coating
of fine gypsum, which has been elaborately worked and smoothed on
while it was fluid. The touches and creases on the surface are those
of a modeler’s hand and stick, and it differs in every way from a
cast. It is therefore plain that the artist first made a core, or
rough “imaginem” or “formam,” of coarse gypsum, and that he improved,
emended, and finished the surface, not by means of “cera infusa in eam
formam gypsi,” but of gypsum spread over it,—just as Lysistratus did.
The language of Pliny is an exact description of this process.

Again, a strong negative indication that gypsum was not used for
casting, or indeed to any extent in modeling, is to be found in the
chapter by Pliny on gypsum. “Its use is,” he says, “to whitewash
[or parget], and to make small figures to ornament houses, and for
wreaths.” He also adds that it is a good medicine for pains in the
stomach; but he entirely omits to mention that it was ever used for
casting. Is it possible to believe that if it were so used he would
not have alluded even to such a fact? Would it be conceivable that
at the present day a chapter could be written on plaster of Paris,
omitting its employment for the purpose of casting? After giving us
this enumeration of the uses to which gypsum is applied, Pliny goes on
to describe its nature, tell where it is found, and name the different
kinds; and he concludes with no allusion to any other use than what he
has previously stated.

Again, Pliny in the chapter on Lysistratus—which it must be remembered
is devoted to modeling—mentions one fact which seems to be inconsistent
with any knowledge at that time of casting. Arcesilaus, he says,
modeled a drinking-cup or mixing-bowl in plaster, which he sold to
Octavius, a Roman knight,[23] for a talent (£250). It is impossible to
believe that such an enormous price would have been given for a mere
plaster bowl. If the process of casting from it was then understood,
Arcesilaus might have repeated it in cast a thousand times, and the
original and the cast being in the same material, one would have been
quite as good as the other, if retouched. Yet he seems only to have
made one, and to have asked a talent for that. Again, Lucullus made a
contract with this same artist to model for him in plaster a statue of
Fabatus, for which he agreed to pay him no less than 60,000 sesterces,
or £530.

It is worth noting, too, as a curious fact, that just at the very
time when Lysistratus is supposed to have invented plaster-casting,
the art of brass-casting began to decline in character and style, and
soon after seems to have died out and been lost; at all events, Pliny
tells us that soon after the 120th Olympiad the art perished,—“cessavit
deinde ars.” And as Lysistratus lived only about twenty-five years
previously, it would be singular to find one of these arts dying out
just as the other was being developed.

Mr. Perkins also thinks it valuable to tell us that Canova was of
opinion that the sculptors of antiquity made finished sketches, and
then by means of proportional compasses enlarged them and took points
on the marble; and he adds, “We should weigh these words of a great
sculptor who devoted himself to the most minute researches on this
subject, as well as to everything that had relation to the fine arts.”

We agree that we should weigh the words of this distinguished sculptor,
though we were not aware before that he was a profound archæologist,
or had made minute researches on this subject. But how in any way does
this tend to prove that the ancient Greeks and Romans knew how to cast
in plaster? We are equally unable to see the precise bearing on this
question of the fact also stated by him, that the drill is supposed by
some to have been invented by Callimachus, and by others to have been
used long before; or that the pointing of a statue was probably known
to the Greeks, and certainly to the Romans.

Yet in a certain way the opinion of Canova that the ancients made small
sketches, and by proportional compasses transferred their proportions,
measures, and general forms to their large works, has an argumentative
relation to the subject different from what Mr. Perkins probably
supposed. This opinion is undoubtedly well founded, and accepting it
as such, what does it indicate? That the process of casting in plaster
was known to the ancients? By no means. So far as it goes, it proves
diametrically the opposite,—as Mr. Perkins might have seen, had he
weighed the words of this great sculptor.

In fact, this leads us to one of the strongest arguments against the
opinion apparently advocated by Mr. Perkins. Had the ancients known
how to cast in plaster from the model, as they knew how to cast in
bronze, this process of making small statuettes and enlarging therefrom
would have been quite unnecessary. They would thus have escaped the
incorrectness which is unavoidable in such a process, by at once making
their models of full size, and completely finishing them in clay or
other plastic material before transferring them to the marble. Their
process probably was to make a small statuette in clay, and then bake
it or dry it. But in transferring proportionally this small figure
into a large one, an objection occurs. Defects scarcely perceptible in
a small figure become gross defects when multiplied into a large one.
Not only variations of one eighth of an inch more or less in small
particulars in a figure a foot high would alter entirely the relative
proportions of a figure eight feet high, but other inaccuracies
inevitably occurring in enlarging by proportional compasses would
increase these disproportions, so that the increased figure would
be invariably untrue in its effect and in its measures. Now this is
precisely what is apparent to any one who carefully studies the antique
statues. Even in works showing the highest artistic knowledge and
skill, the want of correspondence of measures and proportions between
the two sides of the figure is very manifest; and the larger they are
the more this is exhibited. Thus, to take one of the highest examples,
in the Theseus we find astonishing knowledge and artistic skill in
treatment, beside disagreements of measurement in corresponding parts,
which are evidently the result of the defective mechanical process
of enlargement. The legs are beautifully modeled, but of unequal
length,—one being much longer in the thigh than the other. The same
observation is true of the clavicle, and indeed throughout the statue.
Now even an inferior artist would have seen and avoided these mistakes
in modeling the statue full size, but the defect would be easily passed
over by the eye in the small sketch, particularly if the statuette were
merely a sketch, as was in all probability the usual case. It would
be difficult to believe that an artist with the mastery shown in this
statue would not have seen and corrected these mistakes, had the model
of this figure been of the same size. This of course he perceived after
the points were taken in the marble and the work was roughed out, but
then it was too late to remedy them. This difficulty he and all other
artists must constantly have felt. The question was how to avoid it.
Nothing could have been more simple, if the modern process of casting
in plaster from the clay model had been known to them. They would
simply have modeled the statue in clay of its full size, cast it in
plaster, and been sure of its exact proportions and measures.

Let us take one step further. Had they understood the modern process
of casting in plaster from the clay or from a statue, they could from
the cast have multiplied in marble the same statue any number of
times, identically or with such minute differences as few eyes could
perceive. The repliche in a modern sculptor’s studio are scarcely
to be distinguished from each other, and there would have been no
difficulty in doing the same thing in an ancient sculptor’s studio.
What is the fact known? So far from this being the case, not only are
there comparatively very few repliche even of the most famous statues,
for which there would necessarily be a great demand, but even in the
various repliche which we have there are not only no two which approach
to identity either in attitude or in size, but one can scarcely say of
any of them that the artist had more at best than a vivid recollection
of the original or of some other replica, much less that he had it
before him to copy even by eye. Often the attitude is changed, as well
as the size and proportions; sometimes the action is reversed; and in
all cases such differences exist as it is impossible that the clumsiest
workman could have made with a cast of the original before him. Nor
do we read or hear of any copies in our sense of copy; that is, exact
reproduction of any of the great works of the great sculptors. Look,
for instance, at the Venus of the Capitol and the Venus de Medici
and the St. Petersburg Venus; they are all repliche of the renowned
statue by Praxiteles, but beyond the general attitude there is no
resemblance, not so much as any clever artist of to-day could make
from mere recollection. Look again at the portrait busts; how many are
there of Marcus Aurelius, Octavius Cæsar, and Lucius Verus!—and no two
of them approaching identity. Of the thousands of statues which have
been excavated, no two are exact copies from the same model. There is
at best nothing more than a family resemblance among those which are
most alike. Would this be possible, if the ancients knew and practiced
the art of casting in plaster as we do? It would seem to be utterly
impossible, or at least improbable to the highest degree.

Again, why should not the great artists themselves, or their scholars,
have made repliche of their famous statues? Nothing would have been
easier had there been any casts from them. They were greatly coveted,
and the prices paid for the original works were enormous,—so enormous
that the largest prices of our day shrink into insignificance beside
them. For the famous nude Venus by Praxiteles, Athens, in her extreme
desire to possess it, offered in exchange to pay the whole public
debt of the state to which it belonged. This offer, however, was
peremptorily refused. Yet what could have been more easy, had a cast
of it been in existence, or had they known how to make one, than for
Praxiteles or his scholars to have made an exact replica, fully equal
to the original or even superior to it, with additional touches of the
master’s hand? That this was never done, or hinted at, proves that, the
statue once having passed out of the artist’s hands, he could repeat
it from memory only by aid of his sketch; and this would not only have
cost him as much labor as making a new statue, but would in no sense
have been identical. Again, is it to be supposed that if Polyclitus had
an absolute cast of his life-size statue of the Doryphoros which would
have enabled him to repeat it with exactness, the original would have
commanded such a price as one hundred talents, or £25,000? Or is it
possible to suppose that Arcesilaus would have received a gold talent
(£250) for a plaster bowl which could have been repeated by casting,
for almost nothing? It was because it was modeled, and the modern
process of casting in a piece-mould was unknown, that it commanded such
a price. Here making a rude stamp without under-cuttings would not
suffice. The _finesse_ of the work could not be given, and the work
would have been destroyed or greatly injured in the attempt.

If it be a fact that the Greeks and Romans knew this process, one would
naturally expect to find at least some fragments of casts or moulds
in plaster of their great works,—as for instance of their small and
exquisite Corinthian bronzes, if not of their large figures. But, so
far as we are aware, nothing of the kind has ever been found. The
whole city of Pompeii in the height of its luxury was buried under
a fall of ashes, which for many long centuries preserved the most
refined, fragile, and delicate utensils and works of art; and it is
but a few years since that we removed these ashes and explored its
houses and rooms which had been untouched since that fatal calamity
befell them of which Pliny gives us so vivid an account. It is on the
statements of the younger Pliny himself that those rely who claim
that the ancients knew and practiced casting in plaster. Long before
his day, then, this art had been invented; and we should naturally
expect to find some specimens of it in this city of luxury, among its
pictures, its vases, its statues, and its glass. But in all Pompeii
there has not been found a vestige of a casting in plaster. Its
stuccoes still remain, the bas-reliefs worked in plaster on its walls
are still uninjured, its paintings are still fresh, its vases unbroken,
its household utensils perfect. Hermetically sealed up under that
mound of ashes, there was nothing to injure a cast in any house, if it
existed. But there is absolutely nothing of the kind. Yet this was a
people devoted to art, and whose houses were filled with knick-knacks
of every kind. We find the sculptor’s studio, but there is not a cast
in it, nor is there the shop of a caster. It is plain, therefore, that
there was not a cast in Pompeii.

But if anywhere there were casts from the round there were also
piece-moulds from the round. Where are they? Has any person ever
heard of one? Now a hollow cast is comparatively a fragile object; but
a plaster mould, saturated as it must be with oil, is anything but a
fragile object. Sheltered from the inclemencies of storm and rain, it
would last for thousands of years, and would even resist a century of
exposure to the weather of Italy. But not underground nor aboveground
anywhere has such a thing been found. Whatever moulds have been found
are fit only for mere stamping. They are extremely rude, without
under-cuttings, and seem merely to give a general shape. They are not
cast upon anything, but worked out by hand, and are not in plaster.
They are all small; nothing ever has been found which is either a
mould, or a cast from life, or from a statue, or from a vase or bowl,
or any careful work of art.

An ancient manufactory of terra cotta has been lately discovered and
unearthed at Arezzo in Tuscany, and a large number of moulds was
found, taken apparently from vases executed originally on some hard
metal, probably in silver. The figures on these moulds are of the most
exquisite design and execution, and for beauty and delicacy of finish
exceed anything which remains to us of Greek or Etruscan art. There
are no under-cuttings, and the relief is so low and flat as to yield
an impression scarcely, if at all, higher than a seal or intaglio.
All these moulds, however, are in terra cotta. Not one is in plaster,
though in this material they could have been executed more easily
and exactly, and could have been reproduced in the original size. Of
course, first taken, as they were, in soft clay, then baked, they of
necessity shrank in size and were subject to warping and cracking, all
which defects would have been avoided had they been made in plaster.
All this would indicate that the use of plaster in making moulds was
not practiced at that period, even in such a simple operation as this.

In face of this we must say we do not agree with Mr. Perkins when
he thinks he “establishes by undeniable proof how little founded is
the opinion of those who pretend that the ancients did not practice
casting in plaster,—sustaining it by the complete absence of statues
and statuettes of plaster or fragments of any kind in the excavations,
when nevertheless thousands of objects are found of the most fragile
nature;” and especially when the undeniable proof which he offers is
the existence of some works and arabesque ornaments in plaster found
at Kertch, and supposed to belong to the fourth century before the
Christian era, and which apparently he has never seen. On the contrary,
we should like to know how he explains the fact that no indubitable
ancient moulds or castings have ever been found.

But Mr. Perkins does not seem to reason beyond his texts. He does not
discuss the probabilities of the case; he does not undertake to account
for, or to harmonize with his view, the great fact that nothing has
been found of ancient art cast in plaster. Outside of what is written
in books he does not venture. He does not even seem to have a clear
opinion of his own. He says, “Sur ce point [casting in plaster] les
textes nous laissent dans les ténèbres. Faut-il s’en étonner? Non!
Les auteurs classiques trompent notre curiosité sur des choses d’un
bien autre intent. Que nous disent-ils des vases peints, dont les
musées de l’Europe regorgent? Rien,” etc. Well, if the texts leave us
in darkness, are we then to know nothing and to think nothing? Are we
not to exercise our minds, and if a doubtful text seems to indicate
a fact utterly at variance with our reason and with the facts we
know, are we to treat that text as a fetich, and bow down and worship
it, because it is written in a book? Are we to endeavor to wrench
everything into harmony with it? Or, if it will not agree with facts
of which there is no doubt, are we not rather to sacrifice the text
than our own reason? And especially, are we to pay such reverence to
a doubtful text of Pliny, the most careless of writers, the least
accurate of archæologists? As to the painted vases, no argument or
ancient texts are needed; there is no question in respect to them;
they existed in great numbers; but in respect to casting in plaster
there is nothing but texts to depend upon. Nay more, there is only one
passage in any ancient author, so far as I am aware, that _seems_ to
assert the existence of this process; and the question is as to the
meaning of this very ambiguous passage. If it means what Mr. Perkins
supposes, where are the moulds; where are the casts; where are the
finished likenesses; where is there anything, in a word, to support the
statements of Pliny, as thus interpreted? Does it not seem amazing that
they should all have totally disappeared?

That the text of Pliny, on which all rests, does not mean what it
is supposed to mean by Mr. Perkins, we have endeavored to show; but
at all events, since it is admitted to be most obscure and scarcely
intelligible, it would be better to throw the text overboard, if
it is in conflict with all we know and is improbable in itself,
particularly when we take into consideration the corrupt condition
of the entire text of Pliny. Dr. Brunn, who is certainly an able and
learned archæologist, does not hesitate to reject a portion of this
very text, from the words “idem et de signis effigiem exprimere,” as
an interpolation; and there can be no doubt in the mind of any one who
carefully examines it that this entire passage is full of confusion of
ideas and statements.

Mr. Perkins endeavors to strengthen his position, and also the text of
Pliny as he understands it, by a citation from the “Tragic Jupiter” of
Lucian, in which the statue of Hermes complains that he is spotted by
the pitch with which the sculptors cover his limbs every day, “afin
de les reproduire,” he gratuitously adds, with no authority in the
text for such a statement; and _apropos_ of this he tells us that one
may “model with pitch mixed with marble dust or brick.” He adds: “It
is what the Italians call ‘ciment,’ and they employ it for the most
delicate parts of the mould. It is sufficient in order to keep it in a
malleable state to set the piece on which one is working near the fire,
or to soften it from time to time in a bath of hot water.” “Now this
information,” he continues, “which we owe to one of the most eminent
and learned artists of our age, is very precious, since it gives us
the real meaning of the passage in Lucian.” This taken in connection
with a passage in Apollodorus representing Dædalus making a statue to
Hercules ἐν πίσσῃ or ἐν πίσῃ—the word is doubtful—induces Mr. Perkins
“to conclude, first, that two centuries before the Christian era, pitch
was used, mixed without doubt with other substances, to cast statues
[mouler les statues]; second, that the passage in Lucian not only
contains one of those railleries of which the Voltaire of antiquity
was so prodigal, but leads us to suspect that it veils the indication
of one of the processes of casting.” That is, first he inclines to the
opinion that πίσσῃ (pitch) is a misprint for πίτυς (pine wood), and
that the statue made by Dædalus was in wood; and then he immediately
turns around, and thinks that it proves the existence of casting in
plaster. It cannot mean both; and the probability would seem to be that
he is wrong in both suppositions, and that Dædalus was only employed in
painting his statue in resin or wax.

The seriousness of this passage is more remarkable than its accuracy.
Who can the eminent and learned artist be who has given us this so
precious information?—“ce renseignement tres-précieux,”—which is known
to every humble caster in Europe,—though he is not quite correct in
the composition of what he says the Italians call “ciment.” He must
be a French artist who scorns the Italian language as being, in the
words of another of his countrymen, “rien que de mauvais Français.”
“Ciment” is not an Italian word, and “cimento” has a quite different
significance,—that of attempt or essay. The Italian casters call this
material “cera,” though it is not wax. But aside from this, let us
consider this passage from Lucian to which Mr. Perkins, following other
writers, refers us as showing that the process of casting in plaster
was known to the ancient Greeks.

The Ζεὺς Τραγῳδός of Lucian is a satire on the divinities of Greece,
and a council of them is called to deliberate on what should be done
in consequence of an assault upon their nature and power by Damis. The
gods are called upon, and a question arises as to the precedence they
should have, whether it should be according to the material of which
they are made,—of ivory, gold, bronze, stone, or clay,—or according to
the excellence of their workmanship and the skill of the artist; but
such confusion of claims is made that no precedence is finally allowed
to any one, and the question as to the reasons and arguments of Damis
and his opponent Timocles is discussed. While this is going on, a
figure is seen approaching which is thus described:—

“But who is this who comes in such haste [ὁ χαλκοῦς, ὁ εὔγραμμος, ὁ
εὐπερίγραφος, ὁ ἀρχαῖος τὴν ἀνάδεσιν τῆς κόμης], this bronze, this
beautifully chased or engraved, beautifully outlined, the archaic
in the arrangement of his hair [πίττης γοῦν ἀναπέπλησαι, ὁσημέραι
ἐκματτόμενος ὑπὸ τῶν ἀνδριαντοποιῶν]; he is clogged with pitch from
seals or impressions being daily taken from it by the sculptors.”

Hermes, the bronze, then answers:—

“It happened lately that my breast and back were covered with pitch by
the _sculptors in bronze_, and a ridiculous cuirass was thus formed
on my body, and by imitative art received a complete seal from the
brass.”[24]

This passage is supposed to indicate the process of casting in plaster.
It is possible that it may indicate a preparation in pitch to cast
in bronze, but certainly not in plaster, which is the sole question.
It is not workers in plaster who are engaged on it, but workers in
bronze; and what they were doing was plainly to take impressions of
the intaglio chasing or engraving on the body of the figure. The
description of the bronze is that it was archaic, and beautifully
traced and engraved. It may have been a term engraved with verses, or
figures, or inscriptions; and this is by no means improbable, as it
represented Hermes, and as nothing but the breast and back was covered
with pitch. At all events, the process was one which seems to have
been carried on, not for once, but daily. It may have been the famous
Hermes ἀγοραῖος, which was cast in the 34th Olympiad, and was a study
for brass casters. Again, it may not have been a figure in the round,
but merely a bas-relief, or intaglio; and this supposition would be
entirely in accordance with the hieratic and archaic sculpture in
brass, marble, and terra cotta. Many were executed thus in intaglio and
engraved,—some of which still remain,—and others in relief. A list of
such may be found in Müller’s “Ancient Art” (pp. 61–65). If the passage
refers to making a mould for casting, it was for casting in bronze and
not in plaster, though nothing is said about casting, but merely of
taking impressions or seals. The words ἐκτυπούμενος and ἐκματτόμενος
mean ex-pressions from a seal or stamp. Exactly what the sculptors were
doing, however, to this statue covers the process of brass casters.
Thus Lucian, speaking of a certain brass statue in the Agora, says:
οἶσθα τὸν χαλκοῦν τὸν ἑσῶτα ἐν τῇ ἀγορᾷ, καὶ τὰ μὲν πιττῶν τὰ δὲ εὔων
διετέλεσα,—“You know the brass statue standing in the forum, on which I
was occupied pitching and drying,” or burning.

But there is nothing new in all this, and nothing which throws any
light upon the subject in question. It was, as we well know, a common
practice of the Greeks, in making their large statues, to build up a
core of wood, brickwork, plaster, and other materials as a foundation
or rough sketch. On the surface of this in their chryselephantine
statues they veneered sheets of gold and ivory, sometimes covering the
entire surface with these precious materials, and sometimes finishing
portions of them with an exterior of plaster or clay, which was painted
in imitation of life. This for instance was the case with the Dionysos
in Kreusis, described by Pausanias, of which the whole figure was
modeled in plaster and afterwards colored. It would also seem to have
been a practice with the Greek artists to cover these roughly executed
cores with a composition of resin and pitch which they indurated by
fire; and afterwards to finish the surface in the same material. Such
at least appears to be the process indicated by Lucian in the passage
just quoted, in which he speaks of the statue he was engaged in
pitching and drying; as well as by Apollodorus in a passage in which
Dædalus is described as making a statue of Hercules in pitch (πίσσα).
The term “pissa” in this last passage has by some translators been
supposed to be a misprint for ἐν πίση, meaning that this statue was a
ζόανον executed in pine wood like other Dædalian figures. As it stands
in the original, certainly, it is πίσσα, and means pitch; and it is
quite as probable that it is correct and means a sort of encaustic
finish with resin and gum. However this may be, there is little doubt
that in making their bronze statues the Greeks used a surface of wax
and pitch, or some such material, which was plastic and would melt; and
it is well known that they spread wax over their statues to give them a
polished surface, and also finished their plaster walls with a covering
of wax.

In making large statues, a skeleton framework of wood was often
employed, called κίνναβος, or κάναβος, which was covered with solid
material,—clay, plaster, brick, pitch, etc., all welded together to
form a solid core over which the surface was finished in clay, plaster,
pitch, ivory, or gold. In the “Somnium, seu Gallus” of Lucian, Gallus
says, speaking of himself, “If he were king, he should be like one of
the colossi of Phidias, Praxiteles, or Myron, which though externally
like Neptune or Jupiter,—splendid with ivory and gold, bearing the
trident or the thunderbolt,—yet if you look inside you will find them
composed of beams and bolts and nails traversing them everywhere, and
braces and ridges, and pitch and clay, and other ugly and misshapen
things.”

It is a curious fact bearing generally on this subject that no allusion
is ever made to such a person as a caster in plaster. Plutarch,
enumerating the various trades and occupations to which the great
public works of his time gave employment, speaks of operatives,
modelers, brass-workers, stone-workers, gold and ivory workers,
weavers, and engravers, but never mentions a caster. Philostratus
also, enumerating the different classes of workmen in the plastic art,
makes no mention of casters. Pliny never speaks of them. Indeed, their
existence is never mentioned by any ancient writer.

All things considered, then, in conclusion, it seems impossible to
believe that Pliny intended, in the passage relating to Lysistratus, to
declare that he invented any method of casting in plaster, but rather
that he intended to say that Lysistratus either modeled likenesses in
wax over a core of gypsum, or, what is much more probable, that he
colored his likenesses in imitation of life; and that his specialty was
making accurate and literal likenesses in the round with color, thus
uniting the two arts of the painter and the sculptor.

The process of casting in plaster, in our acceptation of the phrase, is
of modern origin, and so far as we know was invented in the fifteenth
century, a little before the time of Verrocchio (1432–1488), the master
of Leonardo da Vinci. He was among the first who employed it, and may
fairly be said to have introduced it. At all events, the first clear
mention of this process of which we are aware is by Vasari in his life
of Verrocchio; and he states that this sculptor and painter “cast
hands, knees, feet, legs, even torsi, in order to copy them at his
leisure; and that soon after casts began to be made from the faces of
persons after death, so that one sees in every house in Florence, on
mantel-pieces, doors, windows, and cornices, a great number of these
portraits, which seem alive.” For some time after it seems to have been
used chiefly for taking casts from dead faces,—or hands and feet,—and
not to have been applied to casting from models of clay. The general
practice of that period was to make a small model in clay, then to bake
it, and from this model by proportional compasses to enlarge it and
point it upon the marble. The process of casting from clay models seems
not to have been practiced then, and so far as we know models of full
size in clay were rarely if ever made, until rather a comparatively
recent period.



A CONVERSATION WITH MARCUS AURELIUS.


It was a dark and stormy night in December. Everybody in the house had
long been in bed and asleep; but, deeply interested in the “Meditations
of Marcus Aurelius,” I had prolonged my reading until the small hours
had begun to increase, and I heard the bells of the Capucin convent
strike for two o’clock. I then laid down my book, and began to reflect
upon it. The fire had nearly burned out, and, unwilling yet to go, I
threw on to it a bundle of canne and a couple of sticks; again the
fresh flame darted out, and gave a glow to the room. Outside, the
storm was fierce and passionate. Gusts beat against the panes, shaking
the old windows of the palace, and lashing them with wild rain. At
intervals a sudden blue light flashed through the room, followed by a
trampling roar of thunder overhead. The fierce libeccio howled like
a wild beast around the house, as if in search of its prey, and then
died away, disappointed and growling, and after a short interval again
leaped with fresh fury against the windows and walls, as if maddened
by their resistance. As I sat quietly gazing into the fire and musing
on many shadows of thought that came and passed, my imagination went
back into the far past, when Marcus Aurelius led his legions against
the Quadi, the Marcomanni, and the Sarmati, and brought before me the
weather-beaten tent in which he sat so many a bleak and bitter night,
after the duty of the day was done, and all his men had retired to
rest, writing in his private diary those noble meditations, which,
though meant solely for his private eye, are one of the most precious
heritages we have of ancient life and thought. I seemed to see him
there in those bleak wilds of Pannonia, seated by night in his tent.
At his side burns a flickering torch. Sentinels silently pace to and
fro. The cold wind flirts and flaps the folds of the prætorium, and
shakes the golden eagle above it. Far off is heard the howl of the
wolf prowling through the shadowy forests that encompass the camp;
or the silence is broken by the sharp shrill cry of some night bird
flying overhead through the dark. Now and then comes the clink of armor
from the tents of the cavalry, or the call of the watchword along the
line, or the neighing of horses as the circuitores make their rounds.
He is ill and worn with toil and care. He is alone; and there, under
the shadow of night, beside his camp-table, he sits and meditates,
and writes upon his waxen tablets those lofty sentences of admonition
to duty and encouragement to virtue, those counselings of himself to
heroic action, patient endurance of evil, and tranquillity of life,
that breathe the highest spirit of morality and philosophy. Little did
he think, in his lonely watches, that the words he was writing only for
himself would still be cherished after long centuries had passed away,
and would be pondered over by the descendants of nations which were
then uncultured barbarians, as low in civilization as the Pannonians
against whom he was encamped. Yet of all the books that ancient
literature has left us, none is to be found containing the record of
higher and purer thought, or more earnest and unselfish character. As I
glanced up at the cast of the Capitoline bust of him which stood in the
corner of my room, and saw the sweet melancholy of that gentle face,
ere care and disappointment had come over it and ruled it with lines
of age and anxiety, a strange longing came over me to see him and hear
his voice, and a sad sense of that great void of time and space which
separated us. Where is he now? What is he now? I asked myself. In what
other distant world of thought and being is his spirit moving? Has it
any remembrance of the past? Has it any knowledge of the present? Yet
the hand that wrote is now but dust, which may be floating about the
mausoleum where he was buried, near the Vatican, or perhaps lying in
that library of the popes upon some stained manuscript of this very
work it wrote, to be blown carelessly away by some studious abbé as he
ranges the volume on its shelf among the other precious records of the
past.

The hand is but dust, yet the thoughts that it recorded are fresh and
living as ever. Since he passed from this world, how little progress
have we made in philosophy and morality! Here in this little book are
rules for the conduct of life which might shame almost any Christian.
Here are meditations which go to the root of things, and explore the
dim secret world which surrounds us, and return again, as all our
explorations do, unsatisfied. All these centuries have passed, and we
still ask the same questions and find no answer. Where he is now he
knows the secret, or he is beyond the desire to know it. The mystery
is solved for him which we are guessing, and his is either a larger,
sweeter life, growing on and on—or everlasting rest. A stoic, he found
comfort in his philosophy, as great perhaps as we Christians find in
our faith. He believed in his gods as we believe in ours. How could
they satisfy a mind like his? How could these impure and passionate
existences, given to human follies and weaknesses, to low intrigues,
to vulgar jealousies, to degraded loves, satisfy a nature so high, so
self-denying, so earnest, so pure? Yet they were his gods; to them he
sacrificed, in them he trusted, looking forward to a calm future with a
serenity at least equal to ours, undisturbed by misgivings; believing
in justice, and in unjust gods; believing in purity, and in impure gods.

“No!” said a mild voice, “I did not believe in impure and unjust gods.”

And looking up, I saw before me the calm face of the emperor and
philosopher of whom I was thinking. There he stood before me as I knew
him from his busts and statues, with his full brow and eyes, his sweet
mouth, his curling hair, now a little grizzled with age, and a deep
meditative look of tender earnestness upon his face.

I know not why I was not startled to see him there, but I was not. It
seemed to me natural, as events seem in a dream. The realities, as we
call those facts which are merely visionary and transitory, vanished;
and the unrealities, as we call those of thought and being, usurped
their place. Nothing seemed more fitting than that he should be there.
To the mind all things are possible and simple, and there is no time or
space in thought which annihilates them.

I arose to greet my guest with the reverence due to such a presence.

“Do not disturb yourself,” he said, smiling; “I will sit here, if you
please;” and so speaking, he took the seat opposite me at the fire.
“Sit you,” he continued, “and I will endeavor to answer some of the
questions you were asking of yourself.”

“Had I known your presence I should hardly, perhaps, have dared to ask
such questions, or at least in such a form,” I said.

“Why not ask them of me if you ask them of yourself?” he responded.
“They were just and natural in themselves, and the forms of things are
of little use to one who cares for the essence—just as the forms of
the divinities I believed in are of no consequence compared to their
essences. What we call thoughts are but too often mere formulas, which
by dint of repetition we finally get to believe are in themselves
truths, while they are in fact mere dead husks, having no life in them,
and which by their very rigidity prevent life. No single statement,
however plausible, can contain truth, which is infinite in form and in
spirit. If we are to talk together, let us free ourselves, if we can,
from formulas, since they only check growth in the spirit, and, so to
speak, are mere inns at which we rest for a moment on account of our
weariness and weakness. If we stay permanently in them we narrow our
minds, dwarf our experience, and make no more progress. For what is
truth but a continual progression towards the divine?”

“Yet would you say that formulas are of no use? that we should not sum
up in them the best of our thought?”

“Undoubtedly they are useful. They are trunks in which we pack our
goods; but as we acquire more goods, we must have larger and ever
larger trunks. It is only dead formulas which kill, and the tendency of
formulas is to die and thus to repress thought. Look at the nutshell
that holds the precious germ of the future tree. It is a necessary
prison of a moment; but as that germ quickens and spreads, the shell
must give way, or death is the consequence. The infinite truth can be
comprehended in no formula and no system. All attempts to do this have
resulted in the same end—death. Every religious creed should be living,
but every Church formalizes it into barren words and shapes, and
erelong, Faith—that is, the living, aspiring principle—dies, wrapped
up in its formal observances or rigid statements, and becomes like the
dead mummies of the Egyptians—the form of life, not the reality.”

“Too true,” I answered, “all history proves it. Every real and thinking
man feels it. As habits get the better of our bodies, so conventions
and formulas get the better of our minds. But pray continue; I only
listen; and pardon me for interrupting you.”

“What I say has direct relation to the questions you were asking when
I entered. There is a grain, often many grains, of truth in every
system of religion, but complete Truth in none. If we wait until we
attain the perfect before adhering to one, we shall never arrive at
any. Each age has its religious ideas, which are the aggregate of its
moral perceptions influenced by its imaginative bias, and these are
shapen into formulas or systems, which serve as inns, or churches,
or temples of worship. These begin by representing the highest
reach of the best thought of the age, but they soon degenerate into
commonplaces, thought moving on beyond them, and of its very vitality
of nature seeking beyond them. At these inns the common mass put up,
and the host or priest controls them while they are there, and society
organizes them, and so a certain good is attained. In what you call the
ancient days, when I lived on the earth, I found a system already built
and surrounded by strong bulwarks of power. To strike at that was to
strike at the existence of society. A religious revolution is a social
revolution; one cannot alter a faith without altering everything out
of which it is moulded. To do that, more evil might result than good.
Man’s nature is such that if you throw down the temple of his worship
at once, assaulting its very foundations, you do not improve his faith;
you but too often annihilate it, so implanted is it in old prejudices,
in the forms stamped on the heart in youth, and in the habits of
thought. It is only by gradual changes that any real good can be
done—by enlarging and developing the principles of truth which already
exist, and not by overthrowing the whole system at once.”

“But in the religious system to which you gave your adherence,” I
exclaimed, “what was there grand and inspiring? What truth was there
out of which you could hope to develop a true system? for certainly you
could not believe in the divinities of your day.”

“Reverence to the gods that were,” he answered, “to a power above and
beyond us; recognition of divine powers and attributes. This lay as the
corner-stone of our worship, as it does of yours.”

“Almost,” I cried, “it seems to me worse to worship such gods as yours
than to worship none at all. Their attributes were at best only human,
their conduct was low and unworthy, their passions were sensual and
debased. Any good man would be ashamed to do the acts calmly attributed
to the divinities you worshiped. This, in itself, must have had a
degrading influence on the nation. How could man be ashamed of any act
allowed and attributed to the gods?”

“Your notions on this point are natural,” he calmly answered, “but they
are completely mistaken. There is no doubt that in every system of
religion the tendency is to humanize and, to a certain extent, degrade
God. To attribute to Him our own passions is universal, with the mass.
To deify man or to humanize God is the rule. You deify that beautiful
character named Christ, and you humanize God by representing Him as
inspired with anger and cruelty beyond anything in our system. You
attribute to Him a scheme of the universe which is to me abhorrent.
Will you excuse me if I state thus plainly how it strikes one who
belonged to a different age and creed, and who therefore cannot enter
into the deep-grained prejudices and ideas of your century and faith?”

“Speak boldly,” I said. “Do not fear to shock me. I am so deeply
planted that I do not fear to be uprooted in my faith. And, besides,
that is not truth which does not court assault, sure to be strengthened
by it. If you can overthrow my faith, overthrow it.”

“_That_ I should be most unwilling to do,” he answered. “No word would
I say to produce such a result. In your faith there is a noble and
beautiful truth, which sheds a soft lustre over life; and in my own day
the pure and philosophic spirit of Jesus of Nazareth was recognized by
me and reverenced. ’T is not of Him I would speak, but rather of the
general scheme of the regulation of this world by God that I alluded
to; and I yet pause, fearing to shock you by a simple statement of this
creed.”

“I pray you do not hesitate; speak! I am ready and anxious to hear you.”

“It is only in answer to what you say of the acts and passions
attributed by us to our divinities, as constituting a clear reason why
we should not reverence them, that I speak. You attribute to your God
omnipotence, omniscience, and infinite love. Yet in his omnipotence
He made first a world, and then placed in it man and woman, whom He
also made and pronounced good. In this, according to your belief, He
was mistaken. The man and woman proved immediately not to be good; and
He, omnipotent as He was, was foiled by another power named Satan,
who upset at once his whole scheme. After infinite consideration and
in pity for man, He could or did invent no better scheme of redeeming
him than for Himself, or an emanation from Himself, to take the form
of man, and to suffer death through his wickedness and at his hands.
Thus man, by adding to the previous fault the crime of killing God
on the earth, acquired a claim to be saved from the consequences of
his first fault. A new crime affords a cause of pardon for a previous
fault of disobedience. What was this first fault, which induced God
to drive the first man and woman out of the Paradise He had made for
them? Simply that they ate an apple when they were prohibited. Is any
pagan legend more absurd than this? Then for the justice of God, on
what principle of right can the subsequent crime and horror—without
example—of killing God, or a person, as you say, of the Trinity, afford
a reason for removing from man a penalty previously incurred? When one
remembers that you assume God to be omniscient as well as omnipotent,
and that He might have made any other scheme, by simply forgiving man,
or obliging him to redeem himself by doing good and acting virtuously,
instead of committing a crime and a horror, this belief becomes still
more strange. Nor can you explain it yourself; you only say it is a
mystery which is beyond your reason, but none the less true. Yet though
it offends all sense of justice and right in my mind, you believe it
and adhere to it as a corner-stone of your faith. Are you sure I do not
offend you?”

“Pray go on,” I said. “When you have said it is a mystery, you have
said all. Shall man, with his deficient reason, pretend to understand
God? This is a truth revealed to us by his only begotten Son, Jesus
Christ, who was himself in a human form; and when God reveals to us a
mystery, shall we not believe it? Shall we measure Him by our feeble
wits?”

“I do not mean to argue with you. This is furthest from my intention;
though I might say this holds good of us in the ancient days, as well
as with you now. I only wish, however, to show you that you believe
what you acknowledge to be beyond reason—a mystery, as you call it. You
believe this, and yet you despise the pagan for believing what his gods
told him, simply because it was unreasonable or ridiculous.”

“The question,” I said, “is very different; but let it pass. Pray go
on.”

“Your God is a God of infinite love, you say. Yet in the opinion of
many of you, at least, this infinitely loving God, omnipotent, and
having the power to make man as He chose,—omniscient, and knowing how
to make him good and happy if He wished to,—has chosen in his love
to make him weak and impotent, to endow him with passions which are
temptations to evil, to afflict him with disease and pain, to render
him susceptible to torments of every kind and sufferings beyond his
power to avoid, however he strive to be good and virtuous and obedient;
and then at the last, after a life of suffering and struggle here,
either to save him and make him eternally happy, or, if He so elect,
without any reason intelligible to you or any one, to plunge him into
everlasting torment, from which he can never free himself. Now, I
ask you in what respect is such a God better than Jupiter, who, even
according to the lowest popular notions, whatever were his passions,
was at least placable; who, whatever were his follies, was not a demon
like this? And when one takes into consideration the fact that there
is not a humane man living who would not be ashamed to do to his own
child, however vicious, what he calmly attributes to this all-loving
God, the belief in such a God seems all the more extraordinary.”

“It is a mystery,” I said, “that one like you, born in another age and
tinctured with another creed, could not be expected to understand. It
would be useless for me to attempt it, and certainly not now, when I so
greatly prefer hearing you to speaking myself. My purpose is not now to
defend my religion, but to listen to your defense of yours.”

“Well, then, allow us to have our mystery too. If you cannot explain
all, neither could we; but neither with us nor with you was that a
reason for not believing at all. It was the mystery itself, perhaps,
that attracted us and attracts you. The love of the unintelligible is
at the root of all systems of religion. If man is unintelligible to
us, shall not God be? Man has always invested his gods with his own
passions, and his gods are for the most part his own shadows cast out
into infinite space, enlarged, gigantic, and mysterious. Man cannot,
with the utmost exercise of his faculties, get out of himself any more
than he can leap over his own shadow. He cannot comprehend (or inclose
within himself) God, who comprehends and incloses him; and therefore
he vaguely magnifies his own powers, and calls the result God. God the
infinite Spirit made man; but man in every system of religion makes
God. In our own reason He is the best that we can imagine—that is,
our own selves purged of evil and extended. We cannot stretch beyond
ourselves.”

“Ay, but your gods were not the best you could conceive. They were
lower of nature than man himself in some particulars, and were guilty
of acts that you yourself would reprove.”

“This is because you consider them purely in their mythical
history, according to the notions of the common ignorant mass; not
looking behind those acts which were purely typical, often simply
allegorical, to the ideas which they represented and of which they
were incarnations. You cannot believe that so low a system as this
satisfied the spiritual needs of those august and refined souls who
still shine like planets in the sky of thought. Do you suppose that
Plato and Epictetus, that Zeno and Socrates, that Seneca and Cicero,
with their expanded minds, accepted these low formulas of Divinity?
As well might I suppose that the low superstitions of the Christian
Church, in which the vulgar believe, represent the highest philosophy
of the best thinkers. Yet for long centuries of superstition the Church
has been accepted by you just as it stands, with its saints and their
miracles, and its singular rites and ceremonies. Nor has any effort
been made to cleanse the bark of St. Peter of the barnacles and rubbish
which encumber and defile it. Religious faith easily degenerates into
superstition in the common mind. And why has the superstition been
accepted? Simply because it is so deeply ingrained into the belief of
the unthinking mass, that there might be danger of destroying all faith
by destroying the follies and accidents which had become imbedded in
it. Not only for this; by means of these very superstitions men may be
led and governed, and leaders will not surrender or overthrow means
of power. Yet the best minds,” he continued, “did what they could in
ancient days to purify and refine the popular faith, and sought even
to elevate men’s notions of the gods by educating their sense of the
beautiful, and by presenting to them images of the gods unstained by
low passions and glorious in their forms.”

“But surely your idea of Jupiter or Zeus,” I answered, “was most
unworthy when compared with that which we entertain of the infinite
God, the source of all created things, the sole and supreme Creator.
The Hebrews certainly attained a far loftier conception in their
Jehovah than you in your Jupiter.”

“What matter names?” he replied; “Zeus, Jehovah, God, are all mere
names, and the ideas they represented were only differenced by the
temperaments and character of the various peoples who worshiped them.”

“But the Jehovah of the Jews was not merely the head ruler of many
gods, but a single universal God, one and infinite!”

“No! I think not. The Jehovah of the Jews underwent many changes and
developments with the growth of the Hebrew people; and in many of
their writings He is represented as a passionate, vindictive, and
even unreasonable and unjust God, whose passions were modified by
human arguments. And, so far from being a universal God of all, He was
specially the God of the Hebrews, and is so constantly represented in
their Scriptures. He comes down upon earth and interferes personally
in the doings of men, and talks with them, and discusses questions
with them, and sometimes even takes their advice. In process of time
this notion is modified, and assumes a nobler type; but He is never
the Universal Father, nor the God whose essence is Love,—never, that
is, until the coming of Christ, who first enunciated the idea that
God is love,—rejoicing over the saving of man, far and above all
human passions. ‘Vengeance is mine’ was the original idea of Jehovah;
and He was feared and worshiped by the Jews as their peculiar God,
whose chosen people they were. As for his unity, whatever may have
been the popular superstitions of the Greeks and Romans, God is
recognized by the greatest and purest minds as one and indivisible,
the Father of all, who commands all, who creates all, who is invisible
and omnipotent. Do you not remember the fragment of the Sibylline
verses preserved by Lactantius,[25] S. Theophilus Antiochenus,
and S. Justinus, where it is said that Zeus was one being alone,
self-creating, from whom all things are made, who beholds all mortals,
but whom no mortal can behold?—

    Εἷς δ’ ἔστ’ αὐτογενής· ἑνὸς ἔκγονα πάντα τέτυκται,
    Ἐν δ’ αὐτοῖς αὐτὸς περιγίγνεται· οὐδέ τις αὐτὸν
    Εἰσοράᾳ θνητῶν, αὐτὸς δέ γε πάντας ὁρᾶται.

So, also, Pindar cries out:—

    ‘Τί Θεός;’ τί τὸ πᾶν.

So again, in the same spirit, the Appian hymn says of Zeus:—

    Ἓν κράτος, εἷς δαίμων γένετο μέγας οὐρανὸν αἴθων
    Ἓν δὲ τὰ πάντα τέτυκται· ἐν ᾧ τάδε πάντα κυκλεῖται.

And Euripides exclaims, ‘Where is the house, the fabric reared by man,
that could contain the immensity of God?’

    Ποῖος δ’ ἂν οἶκος, τεκτόνων πλασθεὶς ὑπὸ
    Δέμας, τὸ Θεῖον περιβάλλοι τοίχων πτυχαῖς,

and adds that the true God needs no sacrifices on his altar. And
Æschylus, in like manner, says:—

    Ζεύς ἐστιν αἰθὴρ, Ζεὺς δὲ γῆ, Ζεὺς δ’ οὐρανὸς,
    Ζεύς τοι τὰ πάντα, χὥτι τῶν δ’ ὑπέρτερον.

And Sophocles, also in similar lines, proclaims the unity and
universality of God. And Theocritus, in his ‘Idylls,’ echoes the same
sentiment. The same cast of thought, the same lofty idea of God, is
found among the ancient Romans. Lucan exclaims in his ‘Pharsalia:’—

    ‘Jupiter est quod cumque vides, quo cumque moveris.’

Valerius Soranus makes him the one universal, omnipotent God, the
Father and Mother of us all:—

   ‘Jupiter omnipotens, regum rerumque deumque
    _Progenitor genetrix_que deum deus unus et omnes.’[26]

Can any statement be larger and more inclusive than this?[27] Such
indeed was the true philosophic idea of Jupiter, as entertained by
the best and most exalted in ancient days. You must go to the highest
sources to learn what the highest notions of Deity are among any
people, and not grope among the popular superstitions and myths. Then,
again, what nobler expressions of our relation to an infinite and
universal spirit of God are to be found than in Epictetus and Seneca?
‘God is near you, is with you, is within you,’ Seneca writes. ‘A sacred
spirit dwells within us, the observer and guardian of all our evil and
all our good. There is no good man without God.’ And again: ‘Even from
a corner it is possible to spring up into heaven. Rise, therefore,
and form thyself into a fashion worthy of God.’ And again: ‘It is
no advantage that conscience is shut up within us. We lie open to
God.’ And still again: ‘Do you wish to render the gods propitious? Be
virtuous.’ One might cite such passages for hours from the writings of
these men. Can you, then, think that our notions of God and duty were
so low and so debased?

“Look, too, at our arts. Art and religion with us and the Greeks
went hand in hand. If you seek the true spirit of religion among any
people, you will always find it in the productions of their art. In
sculpture, the most ideal of the plastic arts, you will see the real
features of the gods. They are grand, calm, serene, dignified, and
above the taint of human passion; claiming reverence and love in their
beauty and perfection beyond the human. Here there is nothing mean or
low. So godlike are they even in the poorer specimens of their noble
figures that have come down to you, that you yourselves recognize in
them ideal grace and power. Read the reflection of our faith in their
forms and features, and you will find in it nothing vulgar, nothing
degrading. The best personifications of your own divinities in art
look poor beside them. God himself in your pictures is feeble compared
with the divine Jupiter of Phidias; the Madonna weak and tame beside
the august grandeur of his Athene. Christ in your art is pitiable
beside the splendor of Apollo; so far from being the highest type of
even man, he is almost the weakest, composed of pale negatives, and
with nothing very positive and grand; while your saints are affected,
cowardly, and cringing, compared with the heroic demigods of Greece.
In art, at least, the ancient deities still live and command reverence
from a serene world beyond change. Would you know what our faith was,
look at the great works of art and at the best thoughts of the greatest
minds we owned, and not at the corrupted text of popular superstition.
These, indeed, were worthy of reverence. They lifted the thoughts and
cleared the spirit, and filled it with a sense of beauty and of power.
Who could look at that magnificent impersonation of Zeus at Olympia,
by Phidias, so grand, so simple, so serene, with its golden robes
and hair, its divine expression of power and sweetness, its immense
proportions, its perfection of workmanship, and not feel that they were
in the presence of an august, tremendous, and impassionate power?”

“Ah!” I exclaimed, “that truly I wish I could have seen—what majesty,
what beauty, it must have had!”

“Ay!” he answered. “No one could see it and not be enlarged in spirit
by it.”

“Was, then, the Athena of the Parthenon,” I asked, “equal in merit?”

“It was very different. It wanted the power and massive grandeur of the
Zeus; but in its dignity and serenity it had a wondrous charm. It was
the true type of wisdom, calm above doubt, and with a gentle severity
of aspect, as if, undisturbed by the tormenting questions that vex
humanity, it saw the eternal truth of things. When I compare with these
wondrous statues your best representations of your divinities, I cannot
but feel how vast a difference there is; and when in your temples one
sees the prostrate figures of men and women clinging to vulgar and
degraded images of saints, imploring aid and protection from them, and
soliciting their interposition against the avenging hand of Deity, I
cannot see that you are better than we.”

“But, after all, through this there is a belief in a pure and infinite
Being beyond—a Being beyond all human passion; not imperfect and
subject to wild caprices, and capable of abominable acts.”

“You see, we go back to the same question,” he replied. “You profess
to worship a God above nature, and yet your prayers are to Christ,
the man; to the saints, who were lower men and women; and you cling
to these as mediators. Well; and we also believed in a spirit and
power undefined and above all, whose nature we could not grasp,
and who expressed himself in every living thing. Our gods were but
anthropomorphic symbols of special powers and developments of an
infinite and overruling power. They partly represent, in outward shape
and form, philosophic ideas and human notions about the infinite God,
and partly body forth the phenomena of nature, that hint at the great
ultimate cause behind them, of which they are, so to speak, the outward
garment, by which the Universal Deity is made visible to man. In our
religion nature was but the veil which half hid the divine powers.
Everywhere they peered out upon us, from grove and river, from night
and morning, from lightning and storm, from all the elements and all
the changes and mysteries of the living universe. It delighted us to
feel their absolute, active presence among us—not far away from us,
involved in utter obscurity, and beyond our comprehension. We saw the
Great Cause in its second plane, close to us, in the growing of the
flower, in the flowing of the stream, in the drifting of the cloud, in
the rising and setting of the sun. Our gods (representing the great
idea beyond, and doing its work) were anthropomorphic by necessity,
just as yours are in art. The popular fables are but the mythical
garb behind which lie great facts and truths. They are symbolical
representations of the great processes of nature, of the laws of
life and growth, of the changes of the seasons, of the strife of the
elements. Apollo was the life-giving sun; Artemis, the mysterious
moon; Ceres and Proserpine, the burial of the grain in the earth, and
its reappearance and fructification. So, on another plane, Minerva
was the philosophic mind of man; Venus, the impassioned embodiment of
human love, as Eros was of spiritual affections; Bacchus, the serene
and full enjoyment of nature. We but divided philosophically what
you sum up in one final cause; but all our divisions looked back to
that cause. In an imaginative people like the Greeks, there is also a
natural tendency to mythical embodiment of facts in history as well
as in nature; and in the early periods, when little was written down,
traditions easily assumed the myth form. Ideas were reduced to visible
shapes, and facts were etherealized into ideas and imaginatively
transformed. The story of Diana and Endymion, of Cupid and Psyche,
will always be true—not to the reason, but to the imagination. It
expresses poetically a sentiment which cannot die. So, also, what
matters it if Dædalus built a ship for Icarus, and Icarus was simply
drowned? Sublimed into poetry, it became a myth, and Icarus flew
on waxen wings across the sea. All poetry is thus allegorical. The
wind will always have wings until it ceases to blow. These myths are
simply poetic moulds of thought, in which vague sentiments, ideas,
and facts are wrought together into an express shape. Think what your
own literature or thought would be without the old Grecian poems. Let
the reason reject them as it will, and drive them out into the cold,
the imagination will run forth and bring them back again to warm and
cherish them on its breast. Facts, as facts, are but dead husks. The
spirit cannot live upon them. Besides, are not our myths enchanting?
Could anything take their place? Can science, peering into all things,
ever find the secrets of nature? After all its explorations, the final
element of life, the motive and inspiring element that is the essence
of all the organism it uses and without which all is mere material,
mere machinery, flees utterly beyond its reach, and leaves it at last
with only dust in its hands. Does not the little child that makes
playmates of the flowers, and the brooks, and the sands, find God there
better than any of us? The subtle divinity hides anywhere, entices
everywhere, is just out of reach everywhere. We catch glimpses of it,
breathe its odor, hear its dim voice, see the last flutter of its robe,
pursue it endlessly, and never can seize it. The poet is poet because
he loves this spirit in nature, and comes nearer it; but he cannot
grasp it; and for all his pursuit he comes back laden at last with a
secret he cannot quite tell, and shapes us a myth to express it as well
as he may.”

“But surely,” I answered, “we should distinguish between mere poetry
and fact—between science and fancy. So long as we admit the unreality
of merely fanciful creations and explanations of facts, we may be
pleased with them; but let us not be misled by them into a belief of
their scientific truth.”

“Ah, ’tis the old story! The little child has a bit of wood, which to
her, in the free play of her imagination, is a person with good and bad
qualities, who acts well or ill, whom she loves or despises. She whips
it; she caresses it; she scolds it; she sends it to school or to bed;
she forgives it and fondles it. All is real to the child; more real,
perhaps, than to the nurse who stands beside her and laughs at her,
and says, ‘How silly! come away! it is only a stick!’ Which is right?
The Greeks were the child, and you are the nurse. What is truth, which
is always on our lips—truth of history, truth of science, truth of any
kind? Who knows—history? Two persons standing together see the same
occurrence; is it the same to both? Far from it. The literal friend
is amazed to hear what the imaginative friend saw. Yet both may be
right in their report, only one saw what the other had no senses to
perceive. We only see and feel according to our natures. What we are
modifies what we see. Out of the camomile flower the physician makes
a decoction, and the poet a song. History is but a dried herbarium of
withered facts, unless the imagination interpret them. I cannot but
smile at what is called history; and of all history, that of our own
Roman world seems the strangest, because, perhaps, I know it best.”

“Ah!” I broke in, “how one wishes you had written us familiar memoirs
of your time, and given us some intimate insight into your life, your
thoughts, your daily doings. We have so to grope about in the dark for
any knowledge of you. And then, in the history of art, what dreadful
blanks! I do not feel assured, except from your ‘Meditations,’ as we
call them, and your letters, that we really know anything accurately
about you. About the Thundering Legion, for instance,—what is the
truth?”

“There,” he answered, “is an instance of the ease with which a fable
is made, and how a simple fact may be tortured into an untruth merely
to suit a purpose. When I was on my campaign against the Quadi, in the
year 174, the incident to which you refer happened. The spring had been
cold and late, and suddenly the heats of summer overtook us in the
enemy’s country. After a long and difficult march on a very hot day,
we suddenly came upon the enemy, who, descending from the mountains,
attacked us, overcome with fatigue, in the plains. The battle went
against us for some time, for my army suffered so from thirst and heat
and exhaustion that they were unable to repel the attack, and were
forced back. While they were in full retreat and confusion, suddenly
the sky became clouded over, and a drenching shower poured upon us. My
men, who were dying of thirst, stopped fighting, took off their helmets
and reversed their shields to catch the rain, and while they were thus
engaged the enemy renewed their assault with double fury. All seemed
lost, when suddenly, as sometimes occurs among the mountains, a fierce
wind swept down with terrible peals of thunder and vivid flashes of
lightning; the rain changed into hail, which was blown and driven with
such a fury into the faces of the enemy that they were confounded and
confused, and began in their turn to fall back. My own men, having the
storm only on their backs, refreshed by the rain they had drunken from
their shields and helmets, and cooled by their bath, now anew attacked,
and, pouring upon their foe with fury, cut them to pieces. Among my
soldiers at this time there was an old legion, organized in the time of
Augustus, named the Fulminata, from the fact that they bore on their
shields a thunderbolt; upon this simple fact was founded the story,
repeated by many early writers in the Christian Church, that this
legion was composed of Christians only, that the storm was a miraculous
interposition of their God in answer to their prayer, and that they
then received the name of Fulminata, in commemoration of this miracle.
This is the simple truth of the case. My men said that Jupiter Pluvius
came to their aid, and they sacrificed to him in gratitude; and on the
column afterwards dedicated to me by the Senate in commemoration of
my services, you will see the sculptured figure of Jupiter Pluvius,
from whose beard, arms, and head the water is streaming to refresh my
soldiers, while his thunderbolts are flashing against the barbarians.”

As he spoke these words, a flash of lightning, so intense as to blind
the lamps, gleamed through the room, followed by a startling peal of
thunder, which seemed to shake not only the house but the sky above us.

He smiled and said, “We should have said in older time that Jupiter
affirmed the truth of my statement; but you are above such puerilities,
I suppose.”

“Certainly I should not say it was a sign from Jupiter. The thunder was
on the left, and that was considered by you a good omen, was it not?

            ‘Et cœli genitor de parte serena
    Intonuit lævum.’”

“This thunder on the left was considered a good omen. But what was
it you said after you asked the question? You seemed to be making a
quotation in a strange tongue—at least a tongue I never heard.”

“That was Latin,” I answered, blushing a little, “and from
Virgil—Virgilius, perhaps I ought to say, or perhaps Maro.”

“Ah! Latin, was it?” he said. “I beg your pardon; I thought it might
have been a charm to avert the Evil Eye that you were uttering.”

“As difficult to understand as the Eleusinian mysteries,” I said. “And,
by the way, what were the Eleusinian mysteries?”

“They were mysteries! I can merely say to you that they concealed
under formal rites the worship of the spirit of nature, as symbolized
in Demeter and Persephone and Dionysos. In their purest and hidden
meaning, they represented the transformation, purification, and
resurrection of humanity in a new form and in another existence. But I
am not at liberty to say more than this. The outward rites were for the
multitude, the inner meaning for the highest and most developed minds.
Were it permitted to me to explain them to you, I think you would not
take so low a view of our religious philosophy as you now seem to have.
What you hear and read of was merely the outward and mystical drama,
with its lustrations and fasting, and cakes of sesame and honey, and
processions—as symbolical in its way as your mass and baptism, and
having as pure a significance.

“But,” he continued, “to revert to the questions which we were
previously discussing. It seems to me that in certain respects your
faith is not even so satisfactory as ours; for its tendency is to
degrade the present in view of the future, and to debase humanity in
its own view. With us life was not considered disgraceful, nor man a
mean and contemptible creature. We did not systematically humiliate
ourselves and cringe before the divine powers, but strove to stand
erect, and not to forget that we were made by God after his own image.
We did not affect that false humility which in the view of the ancient
philosophers was contemptible—nay, even we thought that the pride of
humility was of all the most despicable. We sought to keep ourselves
just, obedient to our best instincts, temperate and simple, looking
upon life as a noble gift of the gods, to be used for noble purposes.
We believed, beside this, that virtue should be practiced for itself,
and not through any hope of reward or any fear of punishment here or
hereafter. To act up to our highest idea of what was right was our
principle, not out of terror or in the hope of conciliating God, but
because it was right; and to look calmly on death, not as an evil, but
as a step onward to another existence. To desire nothing too much; to
hold one’s self equal to any fate; to keep one’s self in harmony with
nature and with one’s own nature; calmly to endure what is inevitable,
steadily to abstain from all that is wrong; to remember that there is
no such thing as misfortune to the brave and wise, but only phantasms
that falsely assume these shapes to shake the mind; that when what
we wish does not happen, we should wish what does happen; that God
hath given us courage, magnanimity, and fortitude, so that we may
stand up against invasions of evil and bear misfortune,—such were our
principles, and they enabled us to live heroic lives, vindicating
the nobility of human nature, and not despising it as base and lost;
believing in the justice of God and not in his caprice and enmity to
any of us, and having no ignoble fear of the future.”

“But are not these principles for the most part ours?” I answered. “Do
we not believe that virtue is the grand duty of man? Do none of us seek
to live heroic lives, and sacrifice ourselves to do good to the world
and to our brothers?”

“Certainly, you lead heroic lives; but your great principle is
humility—your great motive, reward or fear. You profess to look on
this life as mean and miserable, and on yourselves as creatures of
the dust; and you declare that you have no claim to be saved from
eternal damnation by leading a just life, but only by a capricious
election hereafter. You profess that your God is a God of love, and you
attribute to Him enmity and injustice of which you yourself would be
ashamed. You think you are to be saved because Christ died on the cross
for you, and you are not sure of it even then. But with us every one
deserved to be tried on his own merits, and to expiate his own errors
and crimes.”

“It is supposed by some that you were half a Christian yourself. Is
this so?”

“If you mean that I reverenced the life and doctrines of Christ, and
saw in Him a pure man, I certainly did. But in my principles I was
a Stoic purely, and it is only as a philosopher that I admired the
character of Christ. You think the principles He preached were new;
they were really as old as the world, almost. His life was blameless,
and He sacrificed his life for his principles; and for this I reverence
Him, but no further. His followers, however, were far less pure and
self-denying, and they sought power and endeavored to overthrow the
state.”

“Was it for this you persecuted them?” I said.

“I did not persecute them,” he answered. “As Christians they were
perfectly free in Rome. All religions were free, and all admitted. No
one was interfered with merely for his religious belief and worship,
whether it were that of Isis, of Mithras, of Jehovah, or of any other
deity. It was only when the Christians endeavored to attain to power
and provoke disturbance in the state, to abuse authority and set at
defiance the laws, that it became necessary—or at all events was
considered necessary—to stop them. When they were not content with
worshiping according to their own creed, but aggressively denounced
the popular worship as damnable, and sought to cast public contempt
on all gods but their own, they outraged the public sense as much
as if any one now should denounce Christ as a vagabond, and seek by
abuse to overthrow your church by all sorts of blasphemous language.
Nor would it matter in the least in your own time that any person so
outraging decency should be absolutely honest in his intentions, and
assured in his own mind of the truth of his own doctrines. Suppose one
step further,—that any set of men should not only undertake to turn
Christ into ridicule publicly, but should also abuse the government and
conspire to overthrow the monarchy. You would then have a case similar
to that of the Christians in my day. At all events, it was believed
that it was a settled plan with them to overthrow the empire, and it
was for this that they were, as you call it, persecuted. For my own
part, I was sorry for it, deeming in such matters it was better to take
no measures so severe; but I personally had nothing to do with it.
It was the fanatical zeal of the government, who, acting without my
commands, took advantage of ancient laws to punish the Christians; and
this your own Tertullian will prove to you. They undoubtedly supposed
that the Christians were endeavoring to create a political and social
revolution,—that they were in fact Communists, as you would now call
them, intent upon overthrowing the state. I confess that there was
a good deal of color given to such a judgment by the conduct of the
Christians. But as for myself, as I said, I was opposed to any movement
against them, believing them all to be honest of purpose, though
perhaps somewhat excited and fanatical.”

“Why did you think that they were Communists?” I asked. “Had you any
sufficient grounds for such a belief?”

“Surely; the most ample grounds in the very teachings of Christ
himself. His system was essentially communistic, and nothing else.
His followers and disciples were all Communists; they all lived in
common, had a common purse, and no one was allowed to own anything.
They were ordered by Christ not to labor, but to live from day to day,
and take no heed of the future, and lay up nothing, but to sell all
they had, and live like the ravens. Christ himself denounced riches
constantly—not the wrong use of riches, but the mere possession of
them; and said it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a
needle, than for a rich man to inherit the kingdom of heaven,—not a
bad rich man, observe, but any rich man. So, too, his story of Lazarus
and Dives turns on the same point. It does not appear that Lazarus was
good, but only that he was poor; nor does it appear that Dives was bad,
but only that he was rich; and when Dives in Hades prays for a drop
of water, he is told that he had the good things in his lifetime, and
Lazarus the evil things, and that _therefore_ he is now tormented, and
Lazarus is comforted.”

“But, surely,” I answered, “it was intended to mean that Dives had not
used his riches properly?”

“Nothing is said of the kind, or even intimated; for all that appears,
Dives may have been a good man, and Lazarus not. The only apparent
virtue of Lazarus is, that he was a beggar; the only fault of Dives,
that he was rich. Do you not remember, also, the rich young man who
desired to become one of Christ’s followers, and asked what he should
do to be saved? Christ told him that doing the commandments, and being
virtuous and honest, was not enough; but that he must sell all that
he had, and give it to the poor, and then he could follow Him, and
not otherwise; and the rich good man was very sorrowful, and went
away. What does all this mean but Communism? Yes; the system He would
carry out was community of goods, and He would permit no one to have
possessions of his own. This struck at the roots of all established law
and rights of property, and naturally made his sect feared and hated
among certain classes in Rome.”

“I am astonished,” I said, “to find that you have so carefully studied
the records of the teachings and doctrines of Christ.”

“Is it not the duty of any man,” he answered, “especially of one
in a responsible position, carefully to consider the arguments and
doctrines of all who are sincere and earnest in their convictions,
and, however averse they may be from our preconceived opinions, to
weigh them, as far as possible, calmly, and without prejudice, and see
what they really are and what truth there may be in them? and was not
this peculiarly incumbent on me in the case of so noble and spiritual
a teacher as Christ? Was it not my duty to endeavor, as far as in me
lay, first to recognize the great principles of his teaching, and then
in their light to examine and weigh his very words as far as they
are authentically reported to us by his followers? It is this fixed
notion, from which we cannot easily free ourselves, that we in our
own views alone can be right, that shuts up the mind and encrusts our
faith with superstitions. We at our best are merely men, subject to
errors, short-sighted, fixed in prejudices, and seeing but a part of
anything. No system of religion ever embraced all truth; no system is
without gleams of it; all recognize a higher power above us and beyond
our comprehension; and nothing is more unbecoming than to scorn what
we have not even striven to understand, or to shut our ears and our
minds to any doctrine or faith which is earnestly, seriously propounded
and accepted by others. Unfortunately, it is this narrow-mindedness
and arrogance of opinion which has always impeded the growth and
development of truth. There is nothing so bitter as religious
controversy,—nothing which has so petrified our intelligence or has
begotten such crimes and such persecutions. Therefore it was that I
deemed it my duty to study and endeavor to understand the doctrine and
belief of all sincere minds, whether of those who worshiped Jehovah or
Zeus, Mithras or Christ, and not to reject them as wicked or erroneous
simply because they were averse from the faith in which I had been
educated. Will you excuse me if I say that what amazes me in regard to
the Christian faith is, that while it is claimed that Christ is God,
and therefore to be implicitly obeyed in all his commands, so little
intelligence is shown in studying those commands, and such willful
perversion in avoiding them even when they are plainly enunciated;
and again, that while claiming that love and forgiveness are the very
corner-stone of your faith, you Christians none the less not only
accept war and battle as arbitraments of right, but in the name of
your great founder,—nay, of your very God,—have endeavored at times to
enforce those doctrines by the most hideous of crimes, and by wholesale
slaughter of those who differed from you in minor particulars
of faith; and still more, do constantly even now exhibit such
narrow-minded adherence to mere words and texts, without consideration
of the great principles which underlie them and in the light of which
surely they are to be interpreted. You are all Christians now, in Rome.
You profess absolute faith in the teaching of Christ. You profess to
consider his life as the great exemplar for all men. Do you follow it?
Do you, for instance, think it in accordance with his teaching or his
example to devote your lives selfishly to the laying up of riches for
your own individual luxuries, to clothe yourselves in purple and fine
linen, to make broad your phylacteries, or to use vain repetitions in
your prayers as the heathen do, standing in the synagogues and at the
corners of the streets, and to play the part of Dives while Lazarus is
starving at your gates? Are you any better than we heathens, as you
call us, in all this? Do you think Christ would have done thus, or
smiled approval on all you do in his name? Ah! you say, it would be
impossible for us strictly to carry out this system of Christ. It is
beautiful, but ideal, and for us, in the present state of the world,
absolutely impracticable. But have you ever tried it? Have you ever
even sought to try it, and to hold a common purse for the interest of
all?”

I had to bow my head, and admit that in that high sense we are not
Christians. “But,” I said, “to follow exactly all these commands, to
carry out all these doctrines, even to imitate his example as set
before us in his life, would be to revolutionize the world.”

“But does not the world need revolutionizing,” he said, “according to
your own principles?”

“We do what we can, at least we endeavor to do so, as far as we are
able.”

“Are you sure even of that?” he replied. “Are you sure it is not mammon
that you really worship, and not Christ? But I will say no more. You
are but mortal men as we were; and man is fallible and weak, and our
knowledge is but half-knowledge at best, and our love and faith have
but feeble wings to lift us above the earth on which we dwell. Look
upon us, therefore, as you would be looked upon yourselves, and be
not too stern on our shortcomings. We had our vices and faults and
deficiencies as you have yours, but we had also our virtues, and were
on the whole as high of purpose, as self-sacrificing, as pure even as
you; but man neither then nor now has led an ideal life.

“But to return to what we were saying about our treatment of
Christians. Let me add in my own justification that I for myself never
had any hand in persecutions, either of Christians or of others, nor
was I ever aware that they were persecuted. I knew that persons who
happened to be Christians were punished for political offenses; and
that was all, I think, that happened. Believe me, my soul was averse
from all such things, nor would I ever allow even my enemies to be
persecuted, much less those who merely differed from me on moral and
philosophical theses. Nay, I may say they differed little from me even
on these points, as you may well see if you read my letters on the
subject of the proper treatment of one’s enemies, written to Lucius
Verus, or if you will refer to that little diary of mine in Pannonia,
wherein I was not so base as to lie to myself.”

“Indeed,” I cried; “that book is a precious record of the purest and
highest morality.”

“’Tis a poor thing,” he answered, “but sincere. I strove to act up to
my best principles; but life is difficult, and man is not wise, and our
opinions are often incorrect. Still, I strove to act according to my
nature; to do the things which were fit for me, and not to be diverted
from them by fear of any blame; to keep the divine part in me tranquil
and content; and to look upon death and life, honor and dishonor, pain
and pleasure, as neither good nor evil in themselves, but only in the
way in which we receive them. For fame I sought not; for what is fame
but a smoke that vanishes, a river that runs dry, a lamp that soon is
extinguished—a tale of a day, and scarcely even so much? Therefore,
it benefits us not deeply to consider it, but to pass on through the
little space assigned to us conformably to nature, and in content,
and to leave it at last grateful for what we have received, just as
an olive falls off when it is ripe, blessing nature which produced
it, and thanking the tree on which it grew. So, also, it is our duty
not to defile the divinity in our breast, but to follow it tranquilly
and obediently as a god, saying nothing contrary to truth, and doing
nothing contrary to justice. For our opinions are but running streams,
flowing in various ways; but truth and justice are ever the same, and
permanent, and our opinions break about them as the waves round a
rock, while they stand firm forever. For every accident of life there
is a corresponding virtue to exercise; and if we consult the divine
within us, we know what it is. As we cannot avoid the inevitable, we
should accept it without murmuring; for we cannot struggle against
the gods without injuring ourselves. For the good we do to others, we
have our immediate reward; for the evil that others do to us, if we
cease to think of it, there is no evil to us. It is by accepting an
offense, and entertaining it in our thoughts, that we increase it,
and render ourselves unhappy, and veil our reason, and disturb our
senses. As for our life, it should be given to proper objects, or it
will not be decent in itself; for a man is the same in quality as the
object that engages his thoughts. Our whole nature takes the color of
our thoughts and actions. We should also be careful to keep ourselves
from rash and premature judgments about men and things; for often a
seeming wrong done to us is a wrong only through our misapprehension,
and arising from our fault. And so, making life as honest as possible
and calmly doing our duty in the present, as the hour and the act
require, and not too curiously considering the future beyond us,
standing ever erect, and believing that the gods are just, we may make
our passage through this life no dishonor to the Power that placed us
here. Throughout the early portion of my life, my father, Antoninus
Pius,—I call him my father, for he was ever dear to me, and was like a
father,—taught me to be laborious and assiduous, to be serene and just,
to be sober and kind, to be brave and without envy or vanity; and on
his death-bed, when he felt the shadow coming over him, he ordered the
captain of the guard to transfer to me the golden statuette of Fortune,
and gave him his last watchword of ‘Equanimity.’ From that day to the
day when, in my turn, I left the cares of empire and of life, I ever
kept that watchword in my heart—equanimity; nor do I know a better one
for any man.”

“Oh, tell me, for you know,” I cried, “what is there behind this
dark veil which we call death? You have told me of your opinions and
thoughts and principles of life, here; but of that life hereafter you
have not said a word. What is it?”

There was a blank silence. I looked up—the chair was empty! That noble
figure was no longer there.

“Fool that I was!” I cried; “why did I discuss with him these narrow
questions belonging to life and history, and leave that stupendous
question unasked which torments us all, and of which he could have
given the solution?”

I rose from my chair, and after walking up and down the room several
minutes, with the influence of him who had left me still filling my
being as a refined and delicate odor, I went to the window, pushed wide
the curtains, and looked out upon the night. The clouds were broken,
and through a rift of deep, intense blue, the moon was looking out on
the earth. Far away, the heavy and ragged storm was hovering over the
mountains, sullen and black, and I recalled the words of St. Paul to
the Romans:—

“When the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things
contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto
themselves;” and “the doers of the law shall be justified.”



DISTORTIONS OF THE ENGLISH STAGE AS INSTANCED IN “MACBETH.”


Art is art because it is not nature, is the motto of the Idealisti; Art
is but the imitation of nature, say the Naturalisti. The truth lies
between the two. Art is neither nature alone, nor can it do without
nature. No imitation, however accurate, for imitation’s sake makes a
good work of art in any other than a mechanical sense. And every work
of art in which the objects represented are inaccurately or imperfectly
imitated is in so far deficient. But art works by suggestion as well
as by imitation. Whatever is untrue to the imagination fails to
produce its proper effect, however true it be to the fact. The most
absolute realism will not answer the higher demand of the imagination
for ideal truth. Art is not simply the reproduction of nature, but
nature as modified and colored by the spirit of the artist. It is a
crystallization out of nature of all elements and facts related by
affinity to the idea intended to be embodied. These solely it should
eliminate and draw to itself, leaving the rest as unessential. A
literal adherence to all the accidents of nature is not only not
necessary in art, but may even be fatal. The enumeration of all the
leaves in a tree does not reproduce a tree to the imagination, while a
whole landscape may be compressed into a single verse.

Between the ideal and the natural school there is a perpetual struggle.
Under the purely ideal treatment art becomes vague and insipid; under
the purely natural treatment it becomes literal and prosaic. The
Pre-Raphaelites, in protesting against weak sentimentalism and vague
generalization, and demanding an honest study of nature, have fallen
into the error of exaggerating the importance of minute detail, and, by
insisting too strongly on literal truth, have sometimes lost sight of
that ideal truth which is of higher worth. But their work was needed,
and it has been bravely done. They have roused the age out of that dull
conventionalism in which it had fallen asleep. They have stimulated
thought, revivified sentiment, and reasserted with word and deed the
necessity of nature as a true basis of art.

As in the arts of painting and sculpture, so in the drama and on
the stage a strong reaction is taking place against the stilted
conventionalism and elaborate artifice of the last generation. Such
plays as the “Nina Sforza” of Mr. Troughton, the “Legend of Florence”
of Mr. Leigh Hunt, and the “Blot in the ‘Scutcheon” and “Colombe’s
Birthday” of Mr. Browning, are vigorous protests against the feeble
pretensions and artificial tragedies of the previous century. The poems
and plays of Mr. Browning breathe a new life; and if as yet they have
only found “fit audience though few,” they are stimulating the best
thought of this age, and slowly infusing a new life and spirit into it.

But the traditions of the stage are very strong in England, and are not
easily to be rooted out. The English public has become accustomed to
certain traditional and conventional modes of acting, which interfere
with the freedom of the actor, and cramp his genius within artificial
forms. There is almost no attempt on the English stage to represent
life as it really is. Tradition and convention stand in the stead of
nature. From the moment an actor puts his foot on the stage he is
taught to mouth and declaim. He studies rather to make telling points
than to give a consistent whole to the character he represents. His
utterance and action are false and “stagey.” In quiet scenes he is
pompous and stilted; in tragic scenes, ranting and violent. He never
forgets his audience, but, standing before the footlights, constantly
addresses himself to them as if they were personages in the play.
Habit at last becomes a second nature; his taste becomes corrupted,
and he ceases to strive to be simple and natural. There is, in a
word, no defect against which Hamlet warns the actor which is not a
characteristic feature of English acting. It never “holds the mirror
up to nature,” but is always “overdone,” without “temperance,” full
of mouthing, strutting, bellowing, and noise. It “tears a passion to
tatters, to very rags, to split the ears of the groundlings.” And
“there be players that I have seen play, and heard others praise, and
that highly, not to speak it profanely, that, having neither the accent
of Christians nor the gait of Christian, pagan, nor Turk, have so
strutted and bellowed, that I have thought some of Nature’s journeymen
had made men, and not made them well, they imitated humanity so
abominably;” and this needs to be reformed altogether.

These words of Shakespeare show that even in his time the inflated,
pompous, and artificial style still in vogue on the English stage
was a national characteristic. We have scarcely improved, since old
traditions cling and hold the stage in mortmain. Reform moves slowly
everywhere in England; but the two institutions which oppose to it the
most obstinate resistance are the church and the theatre. In both of
these tradition stands for nearly as much as revelation. Each adheres
to its old forms, as if they contained its true essence; each believes
that those forms once broken, the whole spirit would be lost; just
as if they were phials which contained a precious liquid, and must
be therefore preserved at all costs. The idea that the liquid can be
quite as well, and perhaps better, kept in different phials has never
occurred to them. They will die for the phial.

Still it is plain that a strong reaction against this bigoted
admiration of traditional and conventional forms is now perceptible.
The facilities of travel and intercourse with other nations have
engendered new notions and modified old ones. It is impossible to
compare the French and Italian stage with the English, and not
perceive the vast inferiority of the latter. In the one we see nature,
simplicity, and life; in the other, the galvanism of artificial
convention. It cannot be denied that the recent acting of Hamlet by
Fechter was to the English mind a daring and doubtful innovation. It
was something so utterly different in spirit and style from that to
which we have been accustomed that it created a sensation; and while it
found many ardent admirers, it found quite as many vehement opposers.
The public ranged themselves in two parties; the one insisting that
the traditional and artificial school, as represented by Garrick, the
elder Kean, and Cooke, was the only safe guide for the tragic actor;
and the other arguing that as the true function of the stage was to
hold up the mirror to nature, acting should be as much like life and
as little like acting as possible. The former, at the head of which
were the friends of Mr. Charles Kean, made a public demonstration in
his behalf, and scouted these newfangled French notions of acting. Was
it to be supposed that any school of acting could be superior to that
created and established in England by the genius of such actors as
Garrick, the elder Kean, and Cooke? Should foreigners presume to teach
us how to interpret and represent plays which had been the study of the
English people for centuries? To this it was opposed that, however
mortifying to us, it was a fact that the Germans had led the way to a
profounder and more metaphysical study of Shakespeare, and had taught
us in many ways how to understand his plays, and that therefore there
was no reason why foreigners might not teach us how to act them. The
very fact that their eyes were not blinded, nor their tongues tied by
traditional conventions, enabled them to study Shakespeare with more
freedom and directness. There was no deep rut of ancient usage out
of which they were forced to wrench themselves. And, besides, it was
affirmed, and with truth, that the English stage is the jeer of the
world, and needs thorough reform.

We have indeed made little progress in reforming the stage. Mr. Charles
Kean has devoted his talents to improving the wardrobe and scenery, and
has so far done good service; but in the essential matter of acting we
are nearly where we were in the past century. While the background and
dresses are reformed, and the bag-wig in which Garrick played Hamlet is
thrown aside, we have carefully preserved all the old points, all the
stage-tricks, and all the stilted intonations of the artificial school;
and the consequence is, that the sole reality is in that which is the
least essential. The attention is thus withdrawn from the actor to the
scenery, and we have a spectacle instead of a tragedy. The background
is real, but the actor is conventional; the blanket has usurped the
prominent place, and Shakespeare has retired behind it. The bursts of
genius with which Garrick startled the house, and made the audience
forget his bag-wig, are wanting, but all his tricks are preserved; the
corpse is still there, but the spirit he put into it is gone.

In comedy there is as little resemblance to real life as in tragedy;
humor and wit are travestied by buffoonery and grimace. Instead of
pictures of life as it is, we have grotesque daubs and caricatures, so
exaggerated and farcical in their character as to “make the judicious
grieve.” The actor and the audience react upon each other. The audience
are generally uneducated, and for the most part agree with Partridge in
his comment on “Hamlet:” “Give me the king for my money,” says he. The
actors must bow to this low taste,—

    “For they who live to please must please to live.”

But tradition has worse sins to answer for. It has not only ruined our
national acting, but in some cases has overshadowed the drama itself,
and perverted the meaning of some of the greatest plays of Shakespeare.
Hamlet is not Hamlet on the English stage; he is the tall, imposing
figure of John Kemble; dark, melodramatic, and dressed in black velvet.
Strive as we will, we cannot imagine him as the light-haired Dane,
easy and dreamy of temperament, “fat and scant of breath,” essentially
metaphysical, hating physical action, and wanting energy to put his
thoughts into deeds. The whole spirit of the acted Hamlet is southern;
that of the real Hamlet is purely northern. We have indeed broken
through an old tradition, according to which, incredible as it may
seem, Shylock used to be acted as a comic character, though we are
still far from a real understanding of his character. But of all the
plays of Shakespeare none is so grossly misunderstood as “Macbeth.”
Nor is this misapprehension confined to the stage; it prevails even
among those who have zealously studied and admired Shakespeare. As John
Kemble stands for Hamlet in our imaginations, so does Mrs. Siddons for
Lady Macbeth. She has completely transformed this wonderful creation
of Shakespeare’s, distorted its true features, and so stamped upon it
her own individuality, that when we think of one we have the figure of
the other in our minds. The Lady Macbeth of Mrs. Siddons is the only
Lady Macbeth we know and believe in. She is the imperious, wicked,
cruel wife of Macbeth, urging on her weak and kindhearted husband to
abominable crimes solely to gratify her own ambitious and evil nature.
She is without heart, tenderness, or remorse. Devilish in character,
violent in purpose, she is the soul of the whole play; the plotter
and instigator of all its horrors; a fiend-like creature, who, having
a complete mastery over Macbeth, works him to madness by her taunts,
and relentlessly drives him on against his will to the commission of
his terrible crimes. We hate her, as we pity Macbeth. He is weak of
purpose, amiable of disposition, “full of the milk of human kindness,”
an unwilling instrument of all her evil designs, who, wanting force
of will and strength of character, yields reluctantly to her infernal
temptations.

Nothing could more clearly prove the great genius of Mrs. Siddons, than
that she has been able so to stamp upon the public mind this amazing
misconception, that, despite all the careful study which of late years
has been given to Shakespeare, this notion of the character of Lady
Macbeth and Macbeth should still prevail. Yet so deeply is it rooted,
and so universal, that whoever attempts to eradicate it will find his
task most difficult. But, believing it to be an utter distortion of
the characters as Shakespeare drew them, and so at variance with the
interior thought, conduct, and development of the play as not only
entirely to obscure its real meaning, but to obliterate all its finest
and most delicate features, we venture to enter upon this difficult
task.

Macbeth and his wife, so far from being the characters above described,
are their direct opposites. He is the villain, who can never satiate
himself with crimes. She, having committed one crime, dies of remorse.
She is essentially a woman—acts suddenly and violently, and then
breaks down, and wastes her life and thoughts in bitter repentance. He
is, on the contrary, essentially a man—who resolves slowly and with
calculation, but once determined and entered upon a course of action,
obstinately pursues it to the end, haunted by no remorse for his
crimes, and agitated by no regrets and doubts, so long as his wicked
plans do not miscarry. The spring of his nature is ambition;[28] and in
working out his ends he is cruel, pitiless, and bloody. He is without
a single good trait of character; and from the beginning to the end
of the play, at every step, he develops deeper abysses of cruelty and
inhumanity in his nature. When he is first presented to us, we, in
common with Lady Macbeth, are completely unaware of his baseness. He
is a thorough hypocrite, and deceives us, as he deceived her. We see
that he has a grasping ambition, but we believe that he is amiable and
weak of purpose, for so Lady Macbeth tells us; but as the play goes
on, his character develops itself, and at last we find that he has
neither heart nor tenderness for anybody or anything; that his will is
unconquerable; that he is utterly without moral sense, is hopelessly
selfish, and wickedly cruel. All he loves is power. His ambition is
insatiable. It grows by what it feeds on. The more he has, the more he
desires, and he is ready to commit every kind of horror for the sake
of attaining his object. He is restrained by no scruples of honor, by
no claims of friendship, by no sensitiveness of conscience. He murders
his sovereign, from whom he has just received large gifts and honors in
his own house; and then instantly compasses the death of his nearest
friend and guest, Banquo. Not content with this, he then seeks the life
of Macduff; and, enraged because he has fled, savagely and in cold
blood puts the whole of his family to the sword. There is a steady
growth of evil in his character from the beginning to the end, or
rather a steady development of his evil nature.

Malcolm and Macduff, who at first were his friends and companions,
afterwards, when they had learned to “know” him, call him “treacherous”
and “devilish.” So far from agreeing in the character given of him by
Lady Macbeth, they say,—

      “_Macduff._            Not in the legions
    Of horrid hell can come a devil more damned
    In evil to top Macbeth.

      _Malcolm._            I grant him bloody,
    Luxurious, avaricious, false, deceitful,
    Sudden, malicious, smacking of every sin
    That has a name.”

Yet even they admit that

   “This tyrant, whose sole name blisters our tongues,
    Was once thought honest.”

As he had deceived the world, so he deceived his wife. His bloody and
treacherous nature was at first as unknown to her as to his friends.
As they thought him “honest,” she thought him amiable and infirm of
purpose, greatly ambitious, and one who would “wrongly win,” but yet
kindly of nature. Fiery temptations had not as yet brought out the
secret writing of his character. It was with Macbeth as it was with
Nero: their real natures did not exhibit themselves at first; but when
once they began to develop, their growth was rapid and terrible. And
in each of them there was a vein of madness. Essentially a hypocrite,
and secretive by nature, Macbeth had passed for only a brave and
stern soldier when he first makes his appearance. Yet even in his
fierce Norwegian fight we see a violent and bloody spirit. In the
very beginning of the play, one of his soldiers describes him, in his
encounter with Macdonald, as one who,—

   “Disdaining fortune, with his brandished steel,
    Which smoked with bloody execution,
    Like Valour’s minion,
    Carved out his passage till he faced the slave;
    And ne’er shook hands nor bade farewell to him
    Till he unseamed him from the nape to the chaps,
    And fixed his head upon our battlements.”

This is rather a grim picture, and scarcely corresponds to the
character usually assigned to Macbeth. Here is not only no infirmity of
purpose, but a stern, unwavering resolution, carving its way through
all difficulties and against all opposition. Thus far, however, all
his deeds had been loyal and for a lawful purpose. Still within his
heart burnt, as he himself says, “black and deep desires,” and only
circumstances and opportunities were needed to show that he could be as
fierce and bloody in crime as he had shown himself in doing a soldier’s
duty. They were already urging him in the very first scene; but,
secretive of nature, he kept them out of sight.

                        “Stars, hide your fires;
    Let not light see my black and deep desires;
    The eye wink at the hand; yet let that be,
    Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see.”

Thus he cries to himself as he speeds to his wife. The “murder,” which
was but an hour before “fantastical,” has now become a fixed resolve.

A nature like this, secretive, false, deceitful, and wicked, which
had thus far satisfied itself in a legitimate way, and, having no
temptation in his own house, had never shown its real shape there,
would naturally not have been understood by his wife. Glimpses she
might have of what he was, but not a thorough understanding of him.
Blinded by her personal attachment to him, and herself essentially
his opposite in character, as we shall see, she would naturally have
misinterpreted him. The secretive nature is always a puzzle to the
frank nature. Accustomed to go straight to her object, whether good or
bad, she was completely deceived by his hypocritical and sentimental
pretenses, and supposed his nature to be “full of the milk of human
kindness.” But time also opened her eyes, though, perhaps, never, even
to the last, did she fully comprehend him. “What thou wouldst highly,
that wouldst thou holily,” she would never have said after the murder
of the king. But however this may be, that her view of his character
is false is proved by the whole play. When did he ever show an iota of
kindness? What crime did his conscience or the desire to act “holily”
ever prevent his committing? When did he ever exhibit any want of
bloody determination? Infirm of purpose? He was like a tiger in his
purposes and in his deeds. The murder of Duncan did not satisfy him.
The next morning, he kills the two chamberlains, in cold blood, to
gratify his wanton cruelty. It was impossible that they should testify
against him—they had been drugged, and he could have had no fear of
them. Then immediately he plots the murder of Banquo and Fleance, and
all the while hypocritically conceals his foul purposes even from his
wife; and because Macduff “failed his presence at the tyrant’s feast,”
he determines also to murder him. Foiled of this, he then cruelly and
hideously puts to the sword his wife and little children. In all these
murders, after the king’s, Lady Macbeth not only takes no part, but
she is even kept in ignorance of them. She drive him to the commission
of his crimes? She does not know of them till they are done. They are
plotted and determined upon in secret by Macbeth alone, and carried
into execution with a bloody directness and suddenness. He is “bloody,
false, deceitful, sudden,”—essentially a hypocrite, false in his
pretenses, secret in his plotting, loud in his showy talk, but sudden
and bloody in his crimes and in his malice.

Thus far, however, we have seen but one side of Macbeth. The other
side was its opposite. Bold, ambitious, and treacherous, he was also
equally imaginative and superstitious. In action he feared no man.
Brave as he was cruel, and ready to meet anything in the flesh, he was
equally visionary of head, a victim of superstitious fears, and a mere
coward before the unreal fancies evoked by his imagination. He has
the Scottish second-sight, and visions and phantoms shake his soul.
Show him twenty armed men who seek his life, he encounters them with
a fierce joy. Show him a white sheet on a pole, and tell him it is a
ghost, and he trembles abjectly. He conjures up for himself phantoms
that “unfix his hair and make his seated heart knock at his ribs;”
he is distracted with “horrible imaginings.” His excited imagination
always plays him false and fills him with momentary and superstitious
fears; but these fears never ultimately control his action. They are
fumes of the head, and being purely visionary, they are also temporary.
They come in moments of excitement, obscure for a time his judgment,
and influence his ideas; but having regard solely to things unreal,
they vanish with the necessity of action.

These superstitious fears have nothing to do with conscience or morals.
He has no morals; there is no indication of a moral sense in any single
word of the whole play. The only passage which faintly indicates a
sense of right and wrong is when he urges to himself, as reasons why
he should not kill Duncan, not only that the king is his kinsman, his
king, and his guest, but that he has borne his faculties so meekly,
that his virtues would plead like angels trumpet-tongued against the
deep damnation of his taking-off. This, however, is mere talk, and has
reference only to the indignation which his murder will excite, not to
any sorrow Macbeth has for the crime. His sole doubt is lest he may not
succeed; for, as he says,—

                        “If the assassination
    Could trammel up the consequence, and catch,
    With his surcease, success; that but this blow
    Might be the be-all and the end-all here,
    But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,—
    We’d jump the life to come.”

The idea of being restrained from committing this murder by any
religious or moral scruples is very far from his thought. Right or
wrong, good or bad, have nothing to do with the question; and as for
the “life to come,” that is mere folly.

But while his moral sense is dead, his imagination is nervously alive.
It engenders visions that terrify him: after the murder is done, he
thinks he hears phantom-voices crying, “Sleep no more! Glamis hath
murdered sleep; and therefore Cawdor shall sleep no more, Macbeth
shall sleep no more;” and these voices so work upon his superstitious
fears, that he is afraid for the moment to return to the chamber, and
carry the daggers back and smear the grooms with blood. He is, as Lady
Macbeth says, “brainsickly,” and “fears a painted devil.” This is
superstition, not remorse—a momentary imaginative fear, not a permanent
feeling. In a few minutes he has changed his dress, and calmly makes
speeches as if nothing had occurred,—nay, this cold-blooded hypocrite
is ready within the hour to commit two new and wanton murders on the
chamberlains, and boastfully to refer them to his loyal spirit and
loving heart, inflamed by horror at the hideous murder of the king,
which he has himself committed.

The same superstitious fear attacks him when he hears that Birnam Wood
is moving to Dunsinane Hill; but it does not prevent this creature,
so “full of the milk of human kindness,” from striking the messenger,
calling him “liar and slave,” and threatening,—

                      “If thou speak’st false,
    Upon the next tree shalt thou hang alive
    Till famine cling thee.”

So, too, when Macduff tells him that he was “not of woman born,” awed
for a moment by his superstitious fears, he cries,—

   “Accursed be that tongue that tells me so,
    For it hath cow’d my better part of man!
    ... I’ll not fight with thee.”

At times, under the influence of an over-excitable imagination acting
upon a nature thoroughly superstitious, his intellect wavers, and he is
subject to sudden aberrations of mind resembling insanity. They are,
however, evanescent, and in a moment he recovers his poise, descending
through a poetical phase into his real and settled character of
cruelty and wickedness. In the dagger-scene, where he is alone, these
three phases are perfectly marked. The visionary dagger “proceeding
from the heat-oppressed brain” soon vanishes, then follows the poetic
mania, and then the stern resolution of murder. In the banquet-scene,
when the ghost of Banquo rises, the poetic interval is less marked, for
Macbeth is under the restraint of the company and under the influence
of his wife; but scarce has the company gone when his real character
returns. He is again forming new resolutions of blood. His mind reverts
to Macduff, whose life he threatens. He is bent “to know, by the worst
means, the worst;” “strange things I have in head, that will to hand.”

This aberration of mind Macbeth has in common with Lear, Hamlet, and
Othello. But in Macbeth alone does it take a superstitious shape.
The trance of Othello is but a momentary condition, in which his
goaded imagination, acting upon an irritated sense of honor, love,
and jealousy, obliterates for an instant the real world. Hamlet’s
aberration, when it is not feigned, as for the most part it is, is
but the “sore distraction” of a mind upon which the burden of a great
action is fixed, which he is bound either to accept or to reject, but
in regard to which he hesitates, not because he lacks decision of
character, but solely because he cannot satisfy himself that he has
sure grounds for action, and that he is not deceived as to the facts
which are the motive of his action; once satisfied as to the grounds
for action, he is decisive and prompt, as is clearly shown in the
manner in which he disposes of Guildenstern and Rosencrantz on board
the vessel, and in the instant slaying of the king himself, when the
evidence of his infamy is clear. But while he is yet undecided and
struggling with himself to solve this sad problem of the king’s guilt,
he rejects all ideas of love as futile and impertinent, and, more than
that, doubts whether Ophelia herself is not, unconsciously to herself,
made a tool of by the king and queen. Lear, again, is “heart-struck.”
His madness comes from wounded pride and affection. The ingratitude
and cruelty of his daughters shake his mind, and to his excited spirit
the very elements become his “pernicious daughters:” “I never gave you
kingdoms, called you children.” In all except Macbeth, the nature thus
driven to madness is noble in itself, moral in its character, and warm
in its affections. The aberrations of Macbeth are superstitious, and
have nothing to do with the morals or the affections.

Macbeth’s imagination is, however, a ruling characteristic of his
nature. His brain is always active; and when it does not evoke
phantoms, it indulges in fanciful and poetic images. He is a poet, and
turns everything into poetry. His utterance is generally excited and
high-flown, rarely simple and real, and almost never expresses his
true feelings and thoughts. His heart remains cold while his head is
on fire. On all occasions his first impulse is to poetize a little;
and having done this, he goes about his work without regard to what
he has said. His sayings are one thing; his doings are quite another.
Shakespeare makes him rant intentionally, as if to show that in such
a character the imagination can and does work entirely independently
of real feelings and passions. There is no serious character in all
Shakespeare’s plays who constantly rants and swells in his speech like
Macbeth; and this is plainly to show the complete unreality of all
his imaginative bursts. In this he differs from every other person
in this play. Yet when he is really in earnest, and has some plain
business in hand, he can be direct enough in his speech, as throughout
the second interview with the weird sisters, and in the scene with
the two murderers whom he sends to kill Banquo and Fleance; or when,
enraged at the escape of Fleance, he forgets to be a hypocrite, and
his real nature clearly expresses itself in direct words, full of
savage resolve. But on all other occasions, when he is not in earnest
and intends to deceive, or when his brain is excited, he indulges
in sentimental speeches, violent figures of speech, extravagant
personifications, and artificial tropes and conceits. Even in the
phantom-voices he imagines crying to him over Duncan’s body, he cannot
help this peculiarity. He curiously hunts out conceits to express
sleep. He “murders sleep, the innocent sleep; sleep, that knits up the
ravell’d sleeve of care, the death of each day’s life, sore labor’s
bath, balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course, chief nourisher
in life’s feast.” No wonder that Lady Macbeth, amazed, cries out, “What
do you mean?” But he cannot help going on like a mad poet. His language
is full of alliteration, fanciful juxtaposition of words, assonance,
and jingle. At times, so strong is this habit, he makes poems to
himself, and for the moment half believes in them. Only compare, in
this connection, the natural, simple pathos of the scene where Macduff
hears of the barbarous murder of his wife and children, with the
language of Macbeth, when the death of Lady Macbeth is announced to
him. Macduff “pulls his hat upon his brows,” and gives vent to his
agony in the simplest and most direct words. Here the feeling is deep
and sincere:—

                    “All my pretty ones?
    Did you say, all?—O hell-kite!—All?
    What, all my pretty chickens, and their dam,
    At one fell swoop?

      _Mal._            Dispute it like a man.

      _Macd._                                 I shall do so;
    But I must also feel it like a man:
    I cannot but remember such things were,
    And were most precious to me.—Did heaven look on,
    And would not take their part? Sinful Macduff,
    They were all struck for thee! naught that I am,
    Not for their own demerits, but for mine,
    Fell slaughter on their souls. Heaven rest them now!

           *       *       *       *       *

    O, I could play the woman with my eyes.”

But when Macbeth is told of the death of his wife, he makes a little
poem, full of alliterations and conceits. It is an answer to the
question, What is life like? What can we say about it now?

   “To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
    Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
    To the last syllable of recorded time;
    And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
    The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
    Life’s but a walking shadow; a poor player,
    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
    And then is heard no more: it is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing.

    _Enter a Messenger._

    Thou com’st to use thy tongue; thy story quickly.”

Has this any relation to true feeling? Do men of any feeling, whose
hearts are touched, fall to improvising poems like this, filled with
fanciful images, when great sorrows come upon them? This speech is full
of “sound and fury, signifying nothing.” There is no accent from the
heart in it. It is elaborate, poetic, cold-blooded. “Life is a candle,”
“a poor player,” “a walking shadow,” “a tale told by an idiot.” We
have his customary alliterations: “petty pace,” “dusty death,” “day to
day;” his love of repeating the same word, “to-morrow, and to-morrow,
and to-morrow,” just as we have “If it were done when ’tis done, then
’twere well it were done quickly;” and his “Sleep no more, Macbeth
does murder sleep,—sleep, that knits up,” etc.; “Sleep no more! Glamis
hath murdered sleep; and therefore Cawdor shall sleep no more, Macbeth
shall sleep no more.” He cannot forget himself enough to cease to be
ingenious in his phrases. As a poem this speech is striking; as an
expression of feeling it is perfectly empty. At the end of it he has
quite forgotten the death of his wife; he is only employed in piling
up figure after figure to personify life. What renders the unreality
of this still more striking is the sudden change which comes over him
upon the entrance of the messenger. In an instant he stops short in his
poem, and his tone becomes at once decided and harsh; his wife’s death
has passed utterly out of his mind. When the messenger tells him that
Birnam Wood is beginning to move, with a sudden burst of rage he turns
upon him, calls him liar and slave, and threatens to hang him alive
till famine cling him, if his report prove to be incorrect. This is the
real Macbeth. From this time forward he never alludes to Lady Macbeth;
but, in a strange condition of superstitious fear and soldierly
courage, he calls his men to arms, and goes out crying,—

                        “Blow, wind! come, wrack!
    At least we’ll die with harness on our back.”

And this throughout is the character of Macbeth’s utterances. He is not
like Tartuffe, a religious hypocrite; he is a poetical and sentimental
hypocrite. His phrases and figures of speech have no root in his real
life; they are only veneered upon them. “His words fly up, his thoughts
remain below.” When he is poetical he is never in earnest. Sometimes
his speeches are merely oratorical, and made from habit and for
effect; sometimes they are hypocritical, and used to conceal his real
intentions; and sometimes they are the expression of an inflamed and
diseased imagination stimulated by superstition. But they are generally
bombastic and swelling in tone, and are so intended to be. His habit
of making speeches and inventing curious conceits is so strong, that
he even “unpacks his heart with words” when alone, so as to leave
himself free and direct to act. Thus, in one of his famous soliloquies,
mark the unreal quality of all the pretended feeling, the mixture of
immorality, bombast, and hypocrisy, the assonances and alliterations,
the plays upon words, the extravagant figures, all showing the
excitability of the brain and not of the heart:—

   “If _it were done_ when ’tis _done_, then _’twere_ well
    _It were done_ quickly. If th’ assassination
    _C_ould trammel up the _c_onsequence, and _c_atch,
    With his _surcease_, _success_; that but this blow
    Might _be_ the _be-all_ and the _end-all here_,
    But _here_, upon this bank and shoal of time,—
    We’d jump the life to come.”

Then, after some questions about killing his guest, his kinsman, his
king, which would seem honest, but for what comes after and for the
utter reckless immorality which has gone before these words, his
imagination excites itself, and runs into a wild and extravagant figure
which means nothing. Duncan’s virtues, he says,—

   “Will plead like angels _t_rumpet-_t_ongued against
    The _d_eep _d_amnation of his _t_aking-off.”

No sooner does he begin to swell and alliterate again than he goes
wild:—

   “And pity, like a _n_aked _n_ew-_b_orn _b_abe,
    Striding the blast, or heaven’s cherubin, hors’d
    Upon the sightless couriers of the air,
    Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye,
    _That tears shall drown the wind_.”

This is pure rant, and intended to be so. It is the product of an
unrestrained imagination which exhausts itself in the utterance. But it
neither comes from the heart nor acts upon the heart.

Again, in the soliloquy of the air-drawn dagger, the superstitious,
visionary Macbeth, who always projects his fancies into figures and
phantoms, after addressing this

                              “false creation
    Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain,”

falls at once into poetic declamation about the night, and indulges
himself in strange images and personifications. A man about to commit a
murder who invents these conceits must be a poetical villain:—

                      “Now witchcraft celebrates
    Pale Hecate’s offerings; and wither’d murder,
    Alarum’d by his sentinel, the wolf,
    Whose howl’s his watch, thus with his stealthy pace,
    With Tarquin’s ravishing strides, towards his design
    Moves like a ghost.”

Can anything be more extraordinary and elaborate than this pressing of
one conceit upon another? Wither’d murder has a sentinel, the wolf, who
howls his watch, and who with stealthy pace strides with Tarquin’s
ravishing strides like a ghost! Shakespeare makes no other character
systematically talk like this.

But the fumes of the brain pass, and leave the stern, determined man of
action:—

                      “Whiles I threat, he lives;
    Words to the heat of deeds too cold breath gives.
    I go, and it is done; the bell invites me.
    Hear it not, Duncan; for it is a knell
    That summons thee to heaven, or to hell.”

We have no such rant as this in Lady Macbeth. In the scenes of the
murder, she does not befool herself with visions and poetry. She is
practical, and her attention is given solely to the real facts about
her. Contrast the simple language in which she speaks, while waiting
for Macbeth, with his previous rhodomontade. Agitated, in great
emotion, listening for sounds, doubting whether some mischance may
not have befallen to prevent the murder, she speaks in short, broken
sentences; but she does not liken her husband to Tarquin, and say now
is the time when “witchcraft celebrates pale Hecate’s offerings,” nor
employ this interval in making a poem full of conceits.

Macbeth goes in to the king, and commits the murder; no scruples of any
kind prevent him. But when that is secure, he has a superstitious fit,
and imagines phantom-voices, that talk as no phantoms ever did before.
Still he is a coward in the presence of phantoms, and will not go back.
The deed has been done, and ghosts alarm him.

But, as has been before observed, all this raving as usual passes by at
once. In a half-hour he is as cold and calm as ever. The phantom-voices
did not reach his conscience, and awakened no remorse. They were the
children of superstition and imagination, and they vanished with
cockcrow and daylight, leaving no trace behind in his memory. They have
not altered his mood nor his plans.

We now come to consider Lady Macbeth’s character. At all points she
was her husband’s opposite, or rather his complement. Where he was
strong, she was weak; where he was weak, she was strong. He was
poetical and visionary of nature; she was plain and practical. He was
indirect, false, secretive; she, on the contrary, was vehement and
impulsive. Between what she willed and what she did was a straight
line. She was troubled by none of his superstitious fears or visions.
Her imagination was feeble and inactive, her character was energetic;
she saw only the object immediately before her, and she went to it with
rapidity and directness of purpose. She was skillful in management
and ready in contrivance, as women are apt to be; while Macbeth was
wanting in both these qualities, as men generally are. For herself she
seems to have had no ambition, and not personally to have coveted the
position of queen. Her ambition is but the reflection of Macbeth’s,
and her great crime was wrought in furtherance of his suggestions and
promptings. Mistaking entirely his character at first, proud of his
success for his sake, and rightly reading him so far as to see that
his ambition, which was insatiable, grasped at the throne, she lent
herself to the murder of Duncan, in the belief that a throne once
obtained, Macbeth’s ambition would be satisfied. Her moral sense was
inactive, and not sufficient to lead her to oppose his project. It
was not, as we shall see, utterly wanting in her, as in Macbeth. She
seems to have been warmly attached to Macbeth, and always, after the
murder is committed, she endeavors to soothe and tranquillize him
with gentle and affectionate words. But she could not understand his
superstitious hesitations when once resolved on action. His poetry
and his imaginative flights, as well as his visions, were to her
incomprehensible, and she made the natural mistake of supposing him to
be infirm of purpose. Her mind was one of management and detail. The
determination and suggestion of the murder are his; the management and
detail of it are hers. This is a master-stroke of Shakespeare’s, by
which he at once distinguishes the masculine from the feminine nature.
Man is quick to propose and suggest a plan in its general scope; woman
is always superior in adjusting the details by which it may be carried
into execution. Lady Macbeth’s nature was not wicked in itself; it
was susceptible of deep feeling and remorse. But her moral sense was
sluggish, while her impulses were sudden and vehement; and as such
women generally are, she was irritably impatient of the postponement
of any project already decided upon. She had a strong will, and gave
expression to it in an exaggerated way:—

                “I have given suck, and know
    How tender ’tis to love the babe that milks me:
    I would, while it was smiling in my face,
    Have pluck’d my nipple from his boneless gums,
    And dash’d the brains out, had I so sworn as you
    Have done to this.”

This is but a vehement, passionate, and exaggerated way of saying that
if she had sworn to herself to do _anything_, however shocking, as
deliberately and determinedly as Macbeth had to commit this murder, she
would do it in spite of consequences, and not like him be “afeard to be
the same in thine own act and valor as thou art in desire.” She does
not mean, nor did Shakespeare mean, that so hideous an act would be
possible for her either to plan or to commit; but to prove her contempt
of that condition of mind when “I dare not” waits upon “I would,” she
seizes on the most horrible and repulsive act that she can imagine,
and declares energetically that, shocking as that is, she would not
hesitate to do even that, had she so sworn to do it as Macbeth had. Yet
this wild and violent figure of speech is generally taken as the key
of her whole character. It is nothing of the sort; for the very line
preceding it proves that she had a tenderness of nature under all her
energy, and a power of love as well as of will:—

                      “I have given suck, and know
    How tender ’tis to love the babe that milks me.”

Well, despite that tenderness and love, which you, Macbeth, know I
have, I would have done what is so contrary to all my nature, had I so
sworn as you. Throughout this scene her sole object is to urge upon
Macbeth, as vehemently as she can, the folly of dallying and hesitating
to carry out a project which he alone had conceived, suggested, and
determined, merely for fear of consequences and lest it should do him
injury in the eyes of the world. He never feels nor suggests any moral
objection; he does not pretend to feel it. His sole fear is lest he may
not succeed; he only doubts whether it would not be better to postpone
the execution of his project until a more fitting time. His decisions
are less rapid than hers. She must at once act on the first strength of
her resolve. She is impetuous, and would spring upon her prey at once.
He, knowing that his fell purpose will only strengthen with meditation,
and doubting whether the time has come to secure his object, proposes
to postpone its execution. But there is no time for this. There are
but a few hours in which all must be accomplished, and he is not ready
with the detail. But to this proposal of postponement she says “No.”
She knows that he never will rest till it is accomplished. Neither time
nor place adhered when you “broke this enterprise to me,” she says; and
now, when both “have made themselves,” execute your design, and no
longer let “I dare not wait upon I would.” To this he feebly opposes,
“If we should fail,” failure being the only thing that troubles him.
She then suggests the plan in detail by which the murder can be
effected; and he cries out, in a burst of admiration and delight,—

            “Bring forth men-children only,
    For thy undaunted mettle should compose
    Nothing but males.”

Still, when the time approaches, Lady Macbeth needs all her courage,
and she stimulates it with wine, lest it should break down:—

    “That which hath made them drunk hath made me bold.”

She preserves her courage, however, to the end, never loses her
self-possession, and takes care that the plan is carried out fully in
all its details. But that accomplished, she utterly breaks down. She
has over-calculated her strength; she was not utterly wicked, and her
remorses are terrible. From this time forward we have no such scenes
between her and her husband; he performs all his other murders alone,
without her connivance or knowledge.

And here the main feature of this play must be kept in mind. Lady
Macbeth dies of remorse for this her crime; she cannot forget it; it
haunts her in her sleep; the damned spot cannot be washed from her
conscience or her hand. What a fearful cry of remorse and agony is that
of hers in her dream!—

    “Here’s the smell of the blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia
    will not sweeten this _little_ hand! Oh! oh! oh!”

There is no poetizing here, no sentimental and figurative
personifications; it is the cry of a wounded heart and conscience. It
is written too in prose, not in verse. It is real, and not fantastic
like the rant and poetry of Macbeth. That terrible night remains with
her, and haunts her and tears her like a demon, and at last she dies of
it.

How is it with Macbeth? Does the memory of that night torture him?
Never for a moment. He plots new murders. He has tasted blood, and
cannot live without it. On, on he goes, deeper and deeper into blood,
till he is slain; and never, to the last, one cry of conscience.

Yet it is thought that Lady Macbeth urged on this amiable man, so
infirm of purpose, so filled with the milk of human kindness, and was
the mainspring of his crimes. Suffice it to say, in answer to this
view, that after Duncan is killed he keeps her in complete ignorance
of all he does, and his murders are thenceforward more terrible
and pitiless, and with no faint shadow of excuse or apology. This
cold-hearted villain stops at nothing; even her death does not awaken
a throb in his heart. Is it not preposterous to suppose that the
so-called fiend of the play, she who instigates and drives an unwilling
victim to crime, should die of remorse for that crime; while the
amiable accomplice, far from sharing any such feeling, only plunges
deeper into crime when she does not instigate him, and develops at
every step an increasing brutality and savageness of nature?

No; it is not the tall, dark, commanding, and imperious figure of Mrs.
Siddons, with threatening brow and inflated nostrils, that represents
Lady Macbeth; she is not at all of such character or features. She is
of rather a delicate organization, of medium height, her hair inclining
to red, her temperament nervous and sanguine, with a florid complexion
and little hands. So was Lucrezia Borgia; and so was Lady Macbeth. She
was personally fair and attractive. Can any one imagine Macbeth calling
a dark, towering, imperious woman like Mrs. Siddons his “dearest love,”
“dear wife,” or his “dearest chuck”?

But it is commonly thought that the murder of Duncan was suggested by
Lady Macbeth, and that her husband was urged into it against his will
and contrary to his nature. Such a view is utterly in contradiction
of the play itself. The suggestion is entirely Macbeth’s, and he has
resolved upon it before he sees her. The witches are a projection of
his own desires and superstitions. They meet him at the commencement of
the play, prophesying, in response to his own desires, that he is thane
of Cawdor, and shall be king hereafter; but they respond also to his
fears, by adding that Banquo’s children shall be kings. Those are the
very points upon which all his thoughts hinge—his ambition to be king,
his fears lest the throne shall pass from his family. Hence his hate of
Banquo and Fleance. From this time forward he thinks of nothing else.
As he rides across the heath, he is self-involved, abstracted, silent,
sullen, revolving in his mind how to compass his designs, which are
nothing less than the murder of the king. He does not dream that the
prophecies of the weird women will accomplish themselves without his
assistance, for they are projections of his own thoughts. He instantly
receives news that he is made thane of Cawdor, and scarcely gives a
thought to this honor, scarcely expresses his satisfaction; when the
news is announced he says,—

   “Glamis, and thane of Cawdor:
    _The greatest is behind._—Thanks for your pains.”

And then immediately his mind reverts to the promise that Banquo’s
children shall be kings:—

   “Do you not hope your children shall be kings,
    When those that gave the thane of Cawdor to me
    Promis’d no less to them?”

Then he falls again into gloomy silence, and talks to himself inwardly.
What does he say and think? He resolves to murder the king:—

   “This supernatural soliciting
    Cannot be ill; cannot be good. If ill,
    Why hath it given me earnest of success,
    Commencing in a truth? I’m thane of Cawdor.
    If good, why do I yield to that suggestion
    Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair,
    And make my seated heart knock at my ribs,
    Against the use of nature? Present fears
    Are less than horrible imaginings;
    My thought, whose _murder_ yet is but fantastical,
    Shakes so my single state of man, that function
    Is smother’d in surmise; and nothing is
    But what is not.”

Yes, already he dreams of murder. He sees not his way clear; he will
trust to chance; but he dreams of murder. And full of these thoughts,
he rushes to his wife to fill her mind with his project, to consult
her as to how it can be carried into execution; for he cannot plan in
detail; and though the thought crosses him, that

   “If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me,
    Without my stir,”

yet this is but a hope; for in the next scene he has determined to take
the matter into his own hands and trust nothing to chance. As soon as
he hears that Malcolm is made Prince of Cumberland and heir to the
throne, he determines absolutely to kill the king:—

   “The Prince of Cumberland!—That is a step
    On which I must fall down, or else o’erleap,
    For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires;
    Let not light see my black and deep desires;
    The eye wink at the hand; yet let that be,
    Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see.”

He has already written to Lady Macbeth; and his letter has but one
thought and one theme,—the promise that he shall be king. Much as she
fears his nature, she knows thoroughly his desires, and has faint
glimpses of his real character; she knows that he _means_ to be king,
and sees that he would “wrongly win;” that his ambition is great, and
that his mind is filled solely with one idea. But she fears that he is
“too full of the milk of human kindness to catch the nearest way;” and
when she hears that Duncan is coming to the castle, and that Macbeth
is hurrying to see her before the king’s arrival, she doubts his plan
no longer. For a moment she is aghast. “Thou’rt mad to say it,” she
says to the messenger who announces the king’s approach; for she sees
that he comes to his death:—

              “The raven himself is hoarse
    That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan
    Under my battlements.”

He has been lured here by Macbeth to compass his destruction; and in a
moment Macbeth will be with her. Then, summoning up all her courage at
once, she resolves to aid him in his ambitious and murderous design.
She calls upon the “spirits that tend on mortal thoughts” to unsex
her, to alter her nature, to make her cruel and remorseless, to let
nothing intervene to shake her purpose; for she is not quite sure of
herself. She knows what “compunctious visitings of nature” are, and she
strengthens herself against them. She is not naturally cruel; and she
cries out to the spirits to “stop up the access and passage to remorse”
now open in her nature, to change her “milk for gall,” and to cover her
with “the dunnest smoke of hell,” so that her

          “keen knife _see_ not the wound it makes,
    Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark,
    To cry, Hold, hold.”

In this tremendous apostrophe, in which she goads herself on to crime,
the woman’s nature is plainly seen. Macbeth never prays to have his
nature altered, to have any passages to remorse closed up; never fears
“compunctious visitings of nature,” nor desires darkness to hide his
knife, so that he may not _see_ the wound he makes. But she knows she
is a woman, and that she needs to be unsexed, and feels that she is
doing violence to her own nature; still her will is strong, and she
cries down her misgivings, and resolves to aid Macbeth in his design.

Macbeth meets her in this mood. There is no salutation or greeting on
his part; he has but one idea,—Duncan is coming, and is to be murdered.
His first words are,—

                  “My dearest love,
    Duncan comes here to-night.”

Whereupon she asks, “And when goes hence?” “To-morrow,” he answers, and
pauses; and adds, “as he purposes.” But in the look and in the pause
Lady Macbeth has read his whole sold and intent. There is murder in
that look; and she cries:—

                      “O, never
    Shall sun that morrow see!
    Your face, my thane, is as a book, where men
    May read strange matters.”

There is no explanation between them. He has conveyed all his intention
by a look and a gesture, as she herself distinctly says. He has ridden
headlong, as fast as horse could carry him, away from the king, full
of this one idea; and the king has vainly “coursed him at the heels,”
having the purpose, as he himself says, “to be his purveyor.” And
his thoughts have spoken in his looks so unmistakably, that they are
perfectly understood. If there be any doubt by whom the murder was
suggested, it is made perfectly clear by what Lady Macbeth subsequently
says to him in the next scene in which they are presented. When he
begins to doubt whether the murder had not better be postponed, she
says:—

              “What beast was’t, then,
    That made you break this enterprise to me?”

It was not of my plotting, but of your own; “Nor time, nor place, did
then adhere, and yet you would make both;” you desired it and still
desire it, but are afraid of consequences. These words of hers would
indeed seem to indicate that he had urged the crime upon her against
her will at a previous interview not reported in the play, or perhaps
by a letter; for she says distinctly, that when he broke the enterprise
to her,—

                “Nor _time_, nor _place_,
    Did then adhere, and yet _you would make both_:
    They have made themselves.”

It would plainly seem, therefore, that Macbeth had broken this
enterprise to her, and urged it on her, even before the king had
determined to come to his castle, and that he intended to make time
and place. This would account completely for her opening speech, and
for the fact that he does not make any explanation to her of his
intentions other than by his look and intonation when they first meet;
for certainly there is nothing in the play about the time and place
of the murder except as herein indicated. It would also explain the
surprise of Lady Macbeth when she hears that her husband is coming,
and the king after him: “Thou’rt mad to say it,” she says; and “the
raven himself is hoarse that croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan under
my battlements.” The time and place had made themselves, then; and it
is on hearing this that she suddenly changes from calm to vehement
emotion, and makes that wonderful apostrophe to the spirits to unsex
her. She sees that all has been resolved, and that she has need of her
utmost resolution.

There is no warrant of any kind that, in the simple words, “And when
goes hence,” she meant more than she said. It was the most natural
question that she could possibly ask. Granting that she intended
equally with him to commit the murder, what is more natural than that
she should wish to know how long the king was to stay, so as to know
how soon it was necessary to carry out the plan of murder, and what
time there was in which to make all the arrangements? Not only Macbeth
pauses after saying “To-morrow” (so, at least, is the punctuation in
all editions), before adding “as he purposes,” but Lady Macbeth, in
her answer, says that she sees in his face that he intends that “never
shall sun that morrow see.” Yet, in the recitation of these parts
on the stage, and as generally read, the meaning is given to Lady
Macbeth’s simple words; and Macbeth is made perfectly innocently to
answer without showing in his look any “strange matter.” But the king
is coming close on his heels; there is no time to arrange details; and
Macbeth goes away to receive him, saying, “We will speak further.”

The characters, as exhibited in the next scenes, have been already
sufficiently discussed. He shows his superstitions, his visions, his
poetry, and his hesitations; she, with the stern determination of a
woman who has screwed her courage to the sticking-place, is agitated
by no visions, but, feeling the necessity of immediate action, she
occupies herself in the arrangements of details, and thus dulls her
conscience.

After all the excitements which have agitated Macbeth—after his
soliloquy, in which he says there is no spur to prick the sides of his
intent, but only vaulting ambition; but if he were sure of success, he
would jump the life to come—there comes a moment when he either has
or pretends to have a hesitation about proceeding further in “this
business.” He does not hesitate for conscience’ sake, but because,
being ambitious, he now would like to wear the golden opinions he has
won, “in their newest gloss,” and not cast them aside so soon, before
he has had the satisfaction of being wondered at and admired a little
longer. He had gained praise and high position, and his vanity was
gratified. He naturally would pause before committing a hideous murder.
But he never pretends that this feeling comes from any moral sense. His
mind has been too long strained with one thought; and, as in all men
of excitable brain, there comes a moment of reaction. He cannot see
his way clear. He fears the effect of his crime. He does not see how
it can be done so that he may avoid suspicion, and attain the object
beyond the murder and for which he commits it, without running too
great risks, and thus exposing himself to the vengeance of the king’s
friends. He fears that his “bloody instructions” may “return to plague
the inventor”—not hereafter, but “_here_.” But what most troubles him
is, that he cannot see the practical way, cannot arrange the details
so as to secure a chance of avoiding suspicion. Here his wife comes
to his aid. She has thought out a plan and arranged the details. She
sternly opposes his proposal to abandon his design, for she knows that
his hesitation is only for a moment, and that nothing less than to be
king can ever satisfy him. Better, then, do the deed at once. His only
opposition after this is, “If we should fail?” But as soon as he sees
the feasibility of her plan, all his scruples are gone; he is more than
convinced, he is delighted, and enters upon it with a joy which he does
not pretend to conceal.

During all these scenes, up to the murder of Duncan, Lady Macbeth is
laboring under an excitement of mind which sustains her in carrying
out the design of her husband. The time is purposely made very
short—only a few hours between the arrival of Duncan and his death—so
that she may not break down. All is hurry and movement, and arrangement
of detail. There is no time for reaction. The very necessity for
immediate action serves as an irritant to the nerves, and strains all
her thoughts and feelings to an unnatural pitch. Still, when the murder
is on the point of being done, she keeps up her courage by drink; for
the strain is almost too great. In this excited state her inflamed will
has got completely the command of her; and to have it all over, and
not caring about the dreadful design longer, she says that had Duncan
“not resembled my father as he slept, I had done it.” But though she
can talk of dashing out the brains of her babe while it was smiling in
her face, she was not, even in this excitement, able to strike Duncan,
because she thought he looked like her father. Her woman’s hand would
have failed her had she attempted it. But all her powers are bound up
in this one design. She has come to a violent determination, and this
she will carry out, come what may. She thrusts aside all compunction
of conscience, and makes such a noise by action in her brain, that its
still small voice cannot be heard.

Macbeth, on the contrary, is of a colder and more brutal nature. His
determination is sullen, and it lies like an immovable rock on which
the flames of his imagination burn like momentary fires of straw, and
over which his superstitious visions pass like clouds or fogs, and then
clear away, leaving the rock unchanged. Just before he commits the
murder, Banquo comes in and tells him that the king

          “hath been in unusual pleasure, and
    Sent forth great largess to your offices.
    This diamond he greets your wife withal,
    By the name of most kind hostess; and shut up
    In measureless content.”

But this does not touch Macbeth, nor induce a moment’s hesitation.
Banquo then speaks of the three weird sisters, and says, “To you they
have show’d some truth;” and Macbeth answers falsely:—

                    “I think not of them;
    Yet, when we can entreat an hour to serve,
    We’d spend it in some words upon that business,
    If you would grant the time.”

Thus, cold and collected, he bids him “Good repose,” sends off the
servant, and waits for the bell to ring, which is the sign that all
is ready for him to murder Duncan. In this interval we have his
three characteristic features brought out one after the other: the
cloudy vision of the air-drawn dagger; then the straw-fire of his
poetry about Hecate and withered murder’s sentinel, the wolf, and
Tarquin’s ravishing strides; and, as these clear off, the stern, sullen
resolution underneath—“Whiles I threat he lives;” “I go, and it is
done.”

When the murder is done, the two are equally distinct in
character,—she energetic and practical, he visionary and superstitious;
and so they part.

Thus far, be it observed, Lady Macbeth has supposed her husband to be
merely “infirm of purpose;” but the next scene is to open her eyes to a
glimpse of his real character.

Macbeth has become perfectly calm and cold again in a few minutes, and
makes his appearance immediately after the knocking. He is completely
master of himself, offers to conduct Macduff to the king, and when
Macduff says he knows it will be a “joyful trouble” to him, answers
like a proverb, calmly, “The labor we delight in physics pain.” The
king is then found dead, and the noise brings Lady Macbeth from her
room. What a difference is now visible in the way in which she and he
speak and act! When Macduff says, “Our royal master’s murdered!” she
cries out, “Woe! alas! what, in our house?” and says not a word more.
Macbeth, however, who is only afraid of shadows, but who, with the
daylight, has no fear of looking at dead bodies, or adding one or two
more with his sword, goes to the room of Duncan, and then reappears,
without the faintest shadow of feeling, and makes a little hypocritical
poem on the event:—

   “Had I but died an hour before this chance,
    I had liv’d a blessed time; for, from this instant,
    There’s nothing serious in mortality:
    All is but toys: renown and grace is dead;
    The wine of life is drawn, and the mere lees
    Is left this vault to brag of.”

“What is amiss?” says Donalbain. And Macbeth cries, “You are, and
do not know’t. The spring, the head, the fountain of your blood is
stopp’d; the very source of it is stopp’d.”

This is Macbeth’s rant and fustian. He has no feeling, and, as usual,
he makes the pretense of poetry serve him. The head, the spring, the
fountain, the source is stopped, is stopped.

And this stuff he recites coolly, although he has but a moment before
wantonly killed the two grooms; nay, he does not mention it until
afterwards, on their being spoken of by Lenox, when this hypocritical
villain cries:—

   “O, yet I do repent me of my fury,
    That I did kill them.

      _Macd._             Wherefore did you so?

      _Macb._ Who can be wise, amaz’d, temperate and furious,
    Loyal and neutral, in a moment? No man:
    The expedition of my violent love
    Outrun the pauser, reason.—Here lay Duncan,
    His _silver_ skin lac’d with his _golden_ blood;
    And his gash’d stabs look’d like a breach in nature,
    For ruin’s wasteful entrance: there, the murderers,
    Steep’d in the colors of their trade, their daggers
    Unmannerly breech’d with gore: who could refrain,
    That had a heart to love, and in that heart
    Courage to make’s love known?”

During this amazing speech, in which he poetizes so elaborately,
and with such curious artifice coldly paints the picture of the man
and friend he had just murdered, Lady Macbeth has been looking and
listening in silence. Suddenly, for the first time, she sees what her
husband really is; she sees that he has neither heart nor conscience;
for no man possessing either could have acted or talked as he has
since the murder of Duncan. So far from having any feeling of shame
or remorse, he, without provocation, wantonly, and with no sufficient
object, has added two other murders to it; and, with a cold-blooded
artificial hypocrisy, he paints in his stilted way the scene of
Duncan’s death, and has command enough of himself to seek out elaborate
and high-flown phrases. But Lady Macbeth, whose courage, stimulated by
excitement, has carried her through the murder, now suddenly breaks
down. This new revelation of her husband’s character, and the ghastly
picture which he summons up before her of the scene of the murder, are
too much for her. She swoons, loses all consciousness, and is carried
out. In her violent excitement, while there was something practical
to busy her mind and her body with, she could carry back the daggers
and smear the grooms with blood; but she could not bear the vivid
remembrance of it when there was nothing to do, and when the excitement
was over: as women will go through extreme dangers, stand at the
surgeon’s table during terrible operations, be great and strong in a
great crisis, and then suddenly faint and fall when the work is over,
unable to bear the remembrance of what they have gone through.

This swooning of Lady Macbeth is the crisis of her nature. From this
time forward she is no more what she has appeared; we hear no more
urging of Macbeth to strengthen his throne by other crimes; no more
taunts by her that he is infirm of purpose; no more allusions to his
amiable weaknesses of character. She has begun to know him and to fear
him. She only endeavors to tranquilize him and content him with what
he has got. But still she does not know him; for his nature, before
hidden, like secret writing, comes out little by little before the fire
of his heated ambition and superstitious fears.

At this swooning-point the two characters of Lady Macbeth and her
husband cross each other. She has thus far only made the running for
Macbeth, and he now takes up the race and passes her; she not only does
not follow, but withdraws. Henceforth he rushes to his goal alone;
alone he arranges the death of Banquo and Fleance.

When next they meet she is no longer the same person we have known; she
feels the gnawing tooth of remorse; she is calmed and cowed by what she
has done:—

              “Nought’s had, all’s spent,
    Where our desire is got without content:
    ’Tis safer to be that which we destroy,
    Than, by destruction, dwell in doubtful joy.”

And as Macbeth enters she endeavors to tranquilize his mind. She has
his confidence no longer; he avoids her, and keeps alone after the
murder of the king. She, not yet aware of the abysses of his nature,
and little imagining that he has been plotting the murder of Banquo,
supposes that the secret of his perturbations, of the solitude he now
seeks, and of his avoidance of her, is the remorse that he begins to
feel, and says as he enters:—

   “How now, my lord! why do you keep alone,
    Of sorriest fancies your companions making,
    Using those thoughts which should indeed have died
    With them they think on? Things without all remedy
    Should be without regard: what’s done is done.”

His answer shows it is no remorse which is haunting him; his sorry
fancies are new plots of murder:

    “We have scotch’d the snake, not kill’d it;”

and we are still “in danger of her former tooth.”

                                    “But let
    The frame of things disjoint, both the worlds suffer,
    Ere we will eat our meal in _fear_, and sleep
    In the affliction of these terrible dreams
    That shake us nightly: better be with the dead,
    Whom we, to gain our place, have sent to peace,
    Than on the torture of the mind to lie
    In restless ecstasy. Duncan is in his grave;
    After life’s fitful fever, he sleeps well;
    Treason has done his worst: nor steel, nor poison,
    Malice domestic, foreign levy, nothing,
    Can touch him further!”

Here is one of those cases where he uses his poetry as a cloak to his
real thoughts. Yet despite his hypocrisy, which takes in his wife, his
real meaning is clear. He would rather die than to go on in this fear:
rather be like Duncan, whom they have at all events “sent to peace,”
and whom nothing can “touch further,” than on “the torture of the mind
to lie in restless ecstasy.” What is this “fear”? what is this “torture
of the mind”? Is it, as Lady Macbeth supposes, from remorse? Oh, no!
he tells us himself what it is; it is solely because Banquo and Fleance
are alive:—

   “O, full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife!
    Thou know’st that Banquo, and his Fleance, lives.”

This it is that tortures him, and this only.

    “But in them nature’s copy’s not eterne,”

says she; meaning, as she has throughout this scene, solely to console
him and draw his thoughts away. They may die; a thousand accidents may
happen to them; you may outlive them; don’t torture yourself with vain
fears. “_There’s_ comfort yet,” he cries, “they are assailable;” and
now, after his old fashion, he breaks into poetry:

   “Then be thou _jocund_: ere the bat hath flown
    His cloister’d flight; ere, to black Hecate’s summons,
    The shard-borne beetle, with his drowsy hums,
    Hath rung night’s yawning peal, there shall be done
    A deed of dreadful note.”

“What’s to be done?” she cries; for having completely misunderstood him
through all the previous part of this interview, she completely fails
to see what he now means. But he has no longer confidence in her; and
so, with caressing words, and probably with some caressing act, he
answers her:

   “Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck,
    Till thou applaud the deed.”

How could she suspect his real meaning? This murdering hypocrite had
just told her that Banquo was coming to the feast that night, and bade
her be jovial, and said to her,—

   “Let your remembrance apply to Banquo;
    Present him eminence, both with eye and tongue.”

And this he proposes to her after having just left the murderers whom
he has hired to waylay and kill Banquo, and entertaining no real doubt
in his mind that Banquo will never reach the supper—certainly never
reach it unless his plot miscarries. Well might she “marvel at his
words.” What follows is full of poetry and wickedness; but it is plain
that he was a mystery to her now, a riddle which she could not read.

The banquet-scene now comes, and Macbeth, believing that he has secured
the death of Banquo and Fleance, is happy, until the murderers come in
and tell him that Fleance has escaped. This upsets him:—

   “Then comes _my fit_ again: I had else been perfect,
    Whole as the marble, founded as the rock,
    As broad and general as the casing air:
    Now I am cabin’d, cribb’d, confin’d, bound in
    To saucy doubts and fears.”

So he poetizes his condition, for superstitious fears always inflame
his imagination; but he cannot regain his composure; his “fit” is on
him, as it “hath been from his youth.” He conjures up the phantom of
Banquo to threaten him and his throne, and this ghost shakes him with
superstitious terror. Lady Macbeth, to whom it is invisible, rouses
herself at this; and not only not comprehending these starts and flaws
of fear, but having a contempt for him, endeavors to recall him to
himself by sharp words; but it is useless, his fit will not leave him,
and the company is dismissed in confusion. When the guests have gone,
Lady Macbeth’s spirit and courage, which were momentary, have fled.
She does not taunt him, but soothes him. He, as soon as he recovers
himself, begins with Macduff, whom he also means to murder:—

   “Strange things I have in head, that will to hand,
    Which must be acted, ere they may be scann’d.”

To this she only says, not imagining his meaning,

    “You lack the season of all natures, sleep.”

Henceforward Lady Macbeth disappears; we hear nothing of her save in
the terrible sleep-walking scene; she is dying of remorse. But Macbeth
goes to the weird sisters, to learn whether “Banquo’s issue shall ever
reign in this kingdom.” They answer, “Seek to know no more:” and he
cries out, “I _will_ be satisfied; deny me this, and an eternal curse
fall on you.” And when they show him the issue of Banquo, kings, he
is enraged beyond control, and curses them. Henceforth for him no
hesitations, no delays. He speaks directly enough now.

                        “From this moment
    The firstlings of my heart shall be
    The firstlings of my hand. And even now,
    To crown my thoughts with acts, be it thought and done:
    The castle of Macduff I will surprise;
    Seize upon Fife; give to the edge o’ th’ sword
    His wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls
    That trace him in his line. No boasting like a fool;
    This deed I’ll do before this purpose cool:
    But no more _sights_!”

And no more _sights_ he has; but he is still haunted by fears. And when
“the English power is near, led on by Malcolm, his uncle Siward, and
the good Macduff,” burning for revenge, Macbeth’s spirit falters. He
rushes into violent rages and then subsides into vague fears, and then
endeavors to strengthen his heart by recalling the mysterious promises
of the weird sisters that he shall not fall by the hand of any man of
woman born, or before Birnam wood come to Dunsinane; but, do all he
can, “he cannot buckle his distempered cause within the belt of rule,”
though he declares,—

   “The mind I sway by and the heart I bear
    Shall never sag with doubt, nor shake with fear.”

Still he does fear; and in one of his dispirited moods, after blazing
out at the messenger who tells him of the approach of Birnam wood,—

   “The devil damn thee black, thou cream-fac’d loon!
    Where got’st thou that goose look?”

he says, finding that there are ten thousand men coming to attack him,
and his followers are not stanch,—

                                    “This push
    Will chair me ever, or disseat me now.
    I have liv’d long enough: my way of life
    Is fall’n into the sear, the yellow leaf:
    And that which should accompany old age,
    As honor, love, obedience, troops of friends,
    I must not look to have; but, in their stead,
    Curses, not loud, but deep, mouth-honor, breath,
    Which the poor heart would fain deny.”

But in a moment he is himself again, and cries:—

   “I’ll fight till from my bones the flesh be hack’d.
    Give me my armor.”

In this mood the illness and death of the queen is nothing to him;
he fights bravely to the end; though, superstitious to the last, his
“better part of man” is cowed by the knowledge that Macduff “was from
his mother’s womb untimely ripped,” and so not of woman born.

And so, by the sword of Macduff, perishes the worst villain, save Iago,
that Shakespeare ever drew.

We have called the witches the projections of Macbeth’s evil thoughts,
and suggested that they were only objective representations of his
inward being. To this it may be objected that they were seen also by
Banquo. But this may well be; for Banquo also seems to have had evil
intentions, which are vaguely hinted at in the play. He constantly
harps on the idea that his children are to be kings. Approaching the
castle of Inverness at night, before the murder of the king, he says,—

   “Hold, take my sword....
    A heavy summons lies like lead upon me,
    And yet I would not sleep: merciful powers!
    Restrain in me the cursed thoughts that nature
    Gives way to in repose!—Give me my sword.”

Meeting then Macbeth, he gives him the diamond sent by the king to Lady
Macbeth; and after speaking of Duncan’s “measureless content,” he says,—

   “I dreamt last night of the three weird sisters:
    To you they have show’d some truth.”

At which Macbeth proposes an interview, to

    “Spend it in some words upon _that_ business.”

To which he readily consents.

The “cursed thoughts,” then, are connected with his dreams about the
weird sisters.

At his next appearance the same thoughts agitate him in Macbeth’s
palace at Fores. His first words are—in soliloquy—

   “Thou hast it now, king, Cawdor, Glamis, all,
    As the weird women promis’d; and, I fear,
    Thou play’dst most foully for’t: yet it was said
    It should not stand in thy posterity,
    But that myself should be the root and father
    Of many kings. If there come truth from them
    (As upon thee, Macbeth, their speeches shine),
    Why, by the verities on thee made good,
    May they not be my oracles as well,
    And set me up in hope? But, hush! no more.”

When it is recollected that, after the scene on the heath with the
soldiers, these are nearly all the words we have from Banquo, it seems
to be pretty clearly indicated that his thoughts at least were not
perfectly honest and what they should have been.

The weird sisters are but outward personifications of the evil thoughts
conceived and fermenting in the brains of Banquo and Macbeth; both high
in station, both generals in the king’s army, both friends, and both
nourishing evil wishes. They are visible only to these two friends; and
though they are represented as having an outer existence independent of
them, they are, metaphysically speaking, but embodiments of the hidden
thoughts and desires of Banquo and Macbeth; as such they are a new and
terrible creation, differing from the vulgar flesh-and-blood witches of
Middleton. They look not like the inhabitants of the earth; they vanish
into thin air; wild, vague, mysterious, they come and go, like devilish
thoughts that tempt us, and take shape before us, as if they had come
from the other world. The devils that haunt us and tempt us come out of
ourselves, like the weird sisters of Macbeth.



INDEX.


  Actors, in England, 234–239.

  Adam, figure of, by Michel Angelo, 26.

  Adriani, Giovanni Battista, letter of, to Vasari, 140.

  Æschines, statement by, regarding Miltiades, 129, _note_.

  Æschylus and Euripides, 30;
    quotation from, 206.

  Agasias the Ephesian, 109.

  Agathenor, 94.

  Ageledas, teacher of Polyclitus, 88.

  Agoracrites, 66, 67, 70;
    and Alcamenes, 71;
    and Phidias, 72;
    statue of Nemesis, at Rhamnus, by, 70, 91.

  Ajax, the antique, 6.

  Alberti, Leon Battista, 3, 8.

  Alcamenes, 55;
    the Venus of the Gardens, by, 68, 90;
    and Agoracritos, 71;
    and Phidias, 72, 96;
    high distinction of, as an artist, 90;
    works in the Temple of Zeus, 93.

  Alcimus Avitus, quotation from his _De Origine Mundi_, 127.

  Alexander, taming Bucephalus, statue of, at Rome, 77, 78;
    praises Apelles and Lysippus, 131.

  Alfieri, 8.

  Ammonius, 108.

  Anacreon, quotations from, 144.

  “Ancora imparo,” a motto used by Michel Angelo in old age, 13.

  Androsthenes, 88, 92.

  Angelo, Michel, 4–7;
    everything in Florence recalls, 8;
    his house, 8, 9;
    birth, 9;
    death, 10;
    early studies, 10;
    early efforts as a sculptor, 10;
    his Cupid and Bacchus, 10;
    his Pietà, 11, 20;
    colossal figure of David, 11, 20;
    Sistine Chapel, 11;
    the Moses, 11, 20;
    Medici Chapel, 11;
    Pauline Chapel, 11;
    the Last Judgment, 11;
    sculptor, painter, architect, engineer, and poet, 11, 43;
    erection of St. Peter’s, 11;
    his circumstances and characteristics, 12;
    always learning, 13;
    his later poetry, 13;
    his power as a sculptor, 13, 20, 39;
    his great works in the Medicean Chapel, 13–21;
    meaning of his statues of Day, Night, Aurora, and Crepuscule, 16–18;
    quatrain by, 17;
    influence of Savonarola and Dante on, 17;
    his works bad models for imitation 20;
    figure of Christ by, in the Church of the Minerva, 20;
    his struggles against ill-health and overwork, 20, 21;
    his frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, 21–29;
    Bramante’s jealousy of, 21, 22, 24;
    Pope Julius II. strikes him with a cane, 25;
    his extraordinary rapidity in working, 25, 26;
    greater as a painter than as a sculptor, 26;
    of heroic spirit, 29;
    fragments of letters by, 30, 36;
    Rafaelle and, 30–33, 35;
    anecdote of, 32;
    personal characteristics of, 33, 34;
    and Vittoria Colonna, 34;
    extract from a sonnet by, 34;
    Dante the favorite poet of, 35;
    Savonarola the friend of, 35;
    originality of, 35;
    devotion to his family, 36;
    generosity of, 36, 37;
    violent temper of, 33, 37;
    patience of, 37;
    difficulties under which he labored, 37, 38;
    described by Vigenero, 38;
    the impatience of his genius, 39;
    appointed architect of St. Peter’s when sixty years old, 39;
    Palazzo Farnese, the Church of Sta. Maria degli Angeli, and the
          Laurentian Library, designed by, 41;
    not responsible for St. Peter’s as it now stands, 42;
    poetry of, 42, 43;
    trained in all the arts, 43;
    the greatest monuments of his artistic power, 44;
    enduring kingdom of, 48;
    popular errors about, 49, 50, 69;
    compared with Phidias, 79, 80.

  Antenor, the first maker of iconic statues, 129.

  Antoninus Pius, 230.

  Apelles, and Alexander, 131;
    praised by Nicephorus Chumnus, 132;
    price paid for one of his portraits of Alexander, 132;
    portraits of Campaspe and Phryne by, 132;
    story about, by Pliny, 132.

  Aphrodite Urania, chryselephantine statue of, by Phidias, 53, 58.

  Apollo, the Temple of, at Phigaleia, 53.

  Apollodorus, 182.

  Apollonius, 109.

  Appian hymn, the, 206.

  Arcesilaus, sketches by, 135;
    price received by, for a drinking-cup, 170;
    for a statue of Fabatus, 170, 176.

  Aretino, 3, 8.

  Arezzo, discoveries at, 178.

  Arezzo, Guido di, 4.

  Argos, the Temple of Juno at, 53.

  Ariosto, 3;
    Dante and, 30;
    lively spirit of, 42.

  Aristotle, distinction drawn by, between Phidias and Polyclitus,
        99–102.

  Arrian, cited, 66, 70.

  Art, deathblow of pagan, 1;
    Christianity and, 1;
    and religion, 2, 4, 208;
    the golden age of Italian, 4;
    spirit of Greek and Roman, 19;
    ancient works of, difficulty of determining authorship of, 69;
    the toreutic, 100;
    the productions of, always show the true spirit of religion among
          any people, 208;
    and nature, 232, 233.

  Artemisia and Mausolus, 132.

  Arts, all, aid each other, 43.

  Athena Areia, statue of, by Phidias, 53, 58;
    its height, 62;
    described, 65.

  Athena Lemnia, statue of, by Phidias, 62;
    beauty of, 65.

  Athena of the Parthenon, chryselephantine statue, by Phidias, 50–68,
          82, 83, 97, 98, 111, 209, 210.

  Athena Promachos, the, cast from spoils taken at Marathon, 59;
    its height, 62, 64.

  Athenagoras, cited, 66, 70.

  Aulus Gellius, definition of “facies” by, 121.

  Aurelius, Marcus, the Meditations of, 190–193, 228;
    how the Meditations were written, 191;
    no book of ancient literature higher and purer, 192;
    his dust, 192;
    a conversation with, 193–230;
    Jesus of Nazareth reverenced by, 199;
    supposed ideas of God held by, 199–202;
    cannot understand modern pronunciation of Latin, 217;
    purely a Stoic, 220;
    did not persecute Christians, 220;
    letters of, on the proper treatment of one’s enemies, 228.

  Aurora, figure of, by Michel Angelo, 14–21.

  Ausonius, cited, 68.


  Baldi Chapel, the, 7.

  Bargello, the, 6.

  Bartolommeo, Fra, 31.

  Baruch, cited, 150.

  Batrachus, 107.

  Beethoven and Mozart, 30.

  Bembo, 4.

  Berlinghi, family of the, 10.

  Bibbiena, 3.

  Biblical history, in Michel Angelo’s frescoes, 28, 29.

  Boccaccio, 3.

  Boiardo, 3.

  Borgia, Lucrezia, 264.

  Bostick and Riley, translation of Pliny by, 135.

  Bramante, instigates Pope Julius II. to summon Michel Angelo
          to Rome, 21;
    jealous of Michel Angelo’s fame, 22;
    tries to induce the Pope to discharge Michel Angelo, 24.

  Brass-casting, decline of the art of, 170.

  Brick, printed on by the ancient Romans, 167.

  British Museum, so-called plaster casts in, 164, 165.

  Bronze statues, the method of the ancients in casting, 142.

  Browning, Robert, 233.

  Browning and Tennyson, 30.

  Brunelleschi, 5, 6, 8, 40;
    designs Church of San Lorenzo, 13.

  Brunn, Dr., cited, 59, 60;
    on Pliny’s Natural History, 120, 137–139.

  Bryaxis, 68.

  Buggiardini, 21.

  Buonomini, Michel Angelo’s father one of the twelve, 10.

  Byzantine tradition, 4.


  Callicrates, and the Parthenon, 51, 52.

  Callimachus, nicknamed, 130;
    drill supposed to have been invented by, 171.

  Cambronne, 74.

  Campaspe, portrait of, by Apelles, 132.

  Canossa, the Counts of, 10.

  Canova, opinion of, as to the use of proportional compasses by ancient
          sculptors, 171.

  Caprese, birthplace of Michel Angelo, 9.

  Carmine, Church of the, 7.

  Carpion and the Parthenon, 51.

  Carrara, Michel Angelo at, 37.

  Casting, from life or from the round, difficulties of, 159, 160;
    distinction between, and modeling, 155, 161.

  Casting in plaster, alleged practice of, among the Greeks and
          Romans, 115–189;
    introduced by Verrocchio, 188.

  Casts, plaster, not found in ancient houses or tombs, 157,
          158, 176, 177.

  Cato, book published by, 167.

  Catulus, 67.

  Cellini, the Renaissance Perseus of, 6;
    accomplished in many arts, 43.

  Ceres, the Temple of, at Eleusis, 52, 53.

  Chalcosthenes, executed works in baked earth, 148.

  Changes, only gradual, do real good, 197.

  Christ, and Communism, 222, 223;
    example of, not always followed by Christians, 226.

  Christianity and Art, 1.

  Christians, not persecuted by Marcus Aurelius, but punished as
          Communists, 220–222;
    attitude of, toward the government, 221, 227;
    theory and practice of, 225, 226.

  Cicero, Demosthenes and, 30;
    on the meaning of _vultus_, 121;
    quoted, 125, 134, 141, 149, 152.

  Cimabue, 4.

  Clay, not a material for casting, 134;
    why used by the ancients instead of gypsum, 158, 159.

  Clemens Alexandrinus, cited, 68.

  Colonna, Vittoria, and Michel Angelo, 34.

  Columbus, 4.

  Communists, the early followers of Christ were, 222.

  Compasses, proportional, used by ancient sculptors, 171, 172.

  Condivi, doubtful assertion of, 25.

  Cooke, a safe guide for the tragic actor, 236.

  Copies, exact, not made by ancient sculptors, 174–176.

  Corœbus, begins the Temple of Initiation at Eleusis, 52.

  Creed, every religious, should be living, 196.

  Crepuscule, figure of, by Michel Angelo, 14–21.

  Ctesilaus, 67, 97;
    compared with Phidias, 96.

  Cydon, competition of, with Phidias, 97, 98.

  Cymon, 67.

  Cyrenaicn, the, fragments of figures from, 164, 165.


  Dædalus, statue to Hercules by, 182, 186.

  Dallaway, cited, 109.

  Damophilus, 117, 146.

  Daniel, Michel Angelo’s figure of, 27.

  Dante, 3, 5, 6, 8;
    his influence on Michel Angelo, 17;
    and Ariosto, 30;
    the favorite poet of Michel Angelo, 35.

  David, Michel Angelo’s statue of, 8, 11.

  Day, Michel Angelo’s colossal figure of, 14–21.

  Deity, figure of the, by Michel Angelo, 27.

  Delacroix and Ary Scheffer, 30.

  Delphi, group of statues at, 59, 60, 62, 64, 121.

  Demetrius, on the work of Phidias, 81;
    introduces the realistic school of portraiture, 130.

  Demosthenes and Cicero, 30.

  Devils, the, that haunt and tempt us, come out of ourselves, 286.

  D’Hancarville, cited, 109.

  Dibutades of Sicyon, 137–139.

  Diocletian, ruins of the Baths of, 41.

  Diodotos, 70.

  Dion Chrysostomos, on the style of Phidias, 81.

  Dionysius of Colophon, 132.

  Dionysius of Halicarnassus, on the art of Phidias, 81, 102;
    on the works of Polyclitus, 89.

  Dives and Lazarus, 223.

  Dolls, ancient, 166.

  Drama, reaction in the, against conventionalism, 233.

  Drill, the, supposed to have been invented by Callimachus, 171.

  Dryads, 1.

  Dust of the dead, 192.

  Duty, the, of considering adverse doctrines, 224, 225.


  Ectypa of baked clay, 156.

  Eleusinian mysteries, meaning of the, 217, 218.

  Eleusis, the Temple of Initiation at, 52;
    the Temple of Ceres at, 52.

  Elgin marbles, the, 49–114.

  Elis, work of Phidias at, 53, 54.

  Elpinice, portrait of, by Polygnotua, 132.

  Epicurus, the face of, carried about by the Romans, 150.

  Equanimity, the last watchword given by Antoninus Pius, 230.

  Erechtheum, the, 94.

  Esaias, Michel Angelo’s figure of, 27.

  Euphranor, 73.

  Euripides, Æschylus and, 30;
    on the immensity of God, 206.

  Ezekiel, Michel Angelo’s figure of, 27.


  Fables of the ancients, the mythical garb of great truths, 211, 212;
    true to the imagination, not to the reason, 212.

  Facts, but dead husks, 212.

  Faith, death of, 196;
    easily degenerates into superstition, 204;
    of the ancients compared with ours, 218–220.

  Fame, what is, 228.

  Fechter, as Hamlet, 236.

  Fedi, 6.

  Ficino, Marsilio, 3.

  Firmicus, story by, about Zagreus, 101.

  Florence, the city of the Renaissance, 5;
    ungrateful, 7;
    Dante and, 8.

  Fol, Mr., the collection of, in Rome, 156, 168.

  Forcellinus, cited, 120, 122, 123.

  Forms, of little consequence, compared to essences, 195.

  Formulas check growth in the spirit, 195;
    but are useful, as trunks in which we pack our goods, 195.

  Fornarina, the, 31, 34.

  Francis I. and Leonardo da Vinci, 74.

  Fresco-painting, source of the term, 25.

  Fronto, _De differentiis Vocabulorum_ of, 122, _note_.


  Galatea, the, of Raffaelle, 32.

  Galileo, 4, 8.

  Garrick, 236–238.

  Germans, as students of Shakespeare, 237.

  Ghiberti, 6, 8, 43.

  Ghirlandajo, Michel Angelo’s early master, 10, 22.

  Giorgione, 4.

  Giotto, 4;
    the campanile of, 6;
    frescoes of, 7;
    accomplished in many arts, 43.

  Glycon, 109.

  God, tendency to humanize and degrade, 198;
    the justice of, 200;
    supposed ideas of, held by Marcus Aurelius, 199–202;
    man cannot comprehend, 203;
    yet man makes, 203;
    Christian and pagan conceptions of, compared, 199–208;
    representations of, in art, inferior to pagan works, 208.

  Gods, images of, in early Greece, with clothes and false hair, 152;
    the ancient, but anthropomorphic symbols, 210.

  Gonsalvi, Cardinal, and Michel Angelo, 13.

  Good, real, done only by gradual changes, 197.

  Gorgasus, 117, 146.

  Gorgias, 88.

  Greek and Roman art, the spirit of, 19.

  Greek sculptors not accustomed to put their names on statues, 107.

  Guarini, 3.

  Guelphs end Ghibellines, 3.

  Guicciardini, 8.

  Gypsum, not used by the ancients in casting, 157–159, 169;
    Pliny on, 169.


  Hamlet, the warnings of, needed by English actors, 234, 235;
    not Hamlet on the English stage, 238;
    mental aberration of, compared with that of Macbeth, 249, 250.

  Hegias, 88.

  Hermitage, Museum of the, 163.

  Hercules, statue of, by Dædalus, 182, 186.

  Hesychius, cited, 70, 103.

  History, who knows, 214;
    must be interpreted by imagination, 214.

  Homer, and Virgil, 30;
    relief in the British Museum, representing the deification of, 109.

  Honesty of intention, not enough, 221.

  Horace, quotation from, 126.

  Horse-Tamer, the, statue of, ascribed to Phidias, 67, 70–79.

  Hugo, Victor, and Lamartine, 30.

  Hunt, Leigh, 233.


  Iasos, 94.

  Iconic statues, first made by Antenor, 129.

  Ictinus, works of, 113.

  Idealisti, motto of the, 232.

  Images, draped with real stuffs by the Greeks and Romans, 152;
    false hair on, 152.

  Imagination in art, 232;
    may work independently of real feelings, 251.

  Inevitable, the, should be accepted without murmuring, 229.

  Isis, 221.

  Isocrates, quoted, 66.

  Italy, the land of the Renaissance, 5.


  Jehovah, the, of the Jews, development of, 205.

  Jeremiah, figure of, by Michel Angelo, 27.

  Jesus, reverenced by Marcus Aurelius, 199, 220.

  John of Bologna, the Rape of the Sabines by, 6.

  Julian, statement by, about Phidias, 84.

  Julius II., Pope, and Michel Angelo, 21–25;
    strikes Michel Angelo with a cane, 25.

  Juno, the Temple of, at Argos, 53.

  Jupiter, the true philosophic idea of, 204–207.

  Jupiter Pluvius, 216.


  Kalamis, 88;
    works of, 93;
    compared with Phidias, 96.

  Kallimachus, 88.

  Kallon, 88.

  Kean, Charles, 236, 237.

  Kean, the elder, 236.

  Kemble, John, as Hamlet, 238, 239.

  Kertch, excavations at, 163;
    so-called casts from, in the British Museum, 164, 165.

  Kleoitas, 88.

  Knight, Richard Payne, opinion of, on the Elgin marbles, 99.

  Kolotes, an assistant of Phidias, 55;
    statue of Athena attributed to, by Pliny, 66, 70, 91.


  Lacon, 88.

  Lactantius, 206.

  Lamartine, Victor Hugo and, 30.

  Lanzi, 8.

  Laocoön, the, 19.

  Latin, modern pronunciation of, unintelligible to Marcus
        Aurelius, 217.

  Laurentian Library, the, 42.

  Lazarus, and Dives, 223.

  Lear, the aberration of mind of, different from that of Macbeth,
        249, 250.

  Leo X., Pope, 13, 14.

  Leochares, statues by, 130.

  Leonardo, 43;
    competition of, with Michel Angelo, 22;
    story about his death, 74.

  Libeccio, the howling, 190.

  Libon, 113.

  Lippi, 7.

  Loclos, 94.

  Lomazzo, statement by, about Leonardo’s death, 74.

  Lorenzo, Duke of Urbino, 14.

  Lorenzo the Magnificent, 3;
    favors Michel Angelo, 10.

  Lucan, lofty idea of God expressed by, 207.

  Lucian, cited, 65, 67;
    his ideal image of the most beautiful woman, 96;
    comment by, on Demetrius, 130;
    the “Tragic Jupiter” of, citations from, 181–185;
    the “Somnium, seu Gallus,” of, quoted, 187.

  Lysias, cited, 101, _note_.

  Lysippus, statue of Opportunity by, 68;
    varies the canon of proportion, 73;
    gives a new impulse to the school of portraiture, 131;
    praised by Nicephorus Chumnus, 132.

  Lysistratus, and the art of casting in plaster, 116, 117, 139,
          141, 143, 145;
    and the practice of portraiture, 131;
    probable use of color by, 154.


  Macbeth, the true character of, 239–285;
    not understood by Lady Macbeth till after the murder of Duncan, 241,
          242, 244, 277;
    Shakespeare’s worst villain, save Iago, 284.

  Macbeth, Lady, the real, 230–241, 251–282.

  Macchiavelli, 3, 8.

  Maderno, Carlo, St. Peter’s injured by, 42.

  Madonna di San Sisto, the, 32.

  Mai, Cardinal, 122, _note_.

  Mammon, worshiped, 227.

  Man, inferior to woman in adjusting details, 259.

  Marathon, the use made of spoils taken from the Medes at, 59.

  Marbles, the Elgin and Phigaleian, work on, in the Library of
          Entertaining Knowledge, 99, 110.

  Masaccio, 7.

  Mausolus, statue of, 131.

  Medicean Chapel, the, 9, 11;
    great works of Michel Angelo in, 13–21, 39.

  Medici, real mausoleum of the, 9;
    burial chapel of the, 44–48;
    coffins of the, neglected and robbed, 45–47;
    sad lesson of their fate, 48.

  Medici, Giuliano dei, mausoleum to, 14.

  Melzi, cited, 74.

  Metagenes, and the Temple of Initiation at Eleusis, 52.

  Metoscopi, a story about, 132.

  Middle Ages, the, 2.

  Middleton, the witches of, different from Shakespeare’s weird
          sisters, 285, 286.

  Miltiades, portrait statue of, at Delphi, 129.

  Minerva, Church of the, 20.

  Mini, Antonio, 21.

  Mini, Giovanni Battista, letter by, 21.

  Mirandola, Pico della, 3.

  Mithras, 221, 225.

  Mnesicles, 52.

  Molière and Racine, 30.

  Moses, statue of, by Michel Angelo, 39.

  Mount Mithridates, excavations at, 163.

  Mozart, Beethoven and, 30.

  Müller, cited, 59, 101, _note_, 185.

  Music, development of, 4.

  Myron, 88;
    great skill of, 89, 90;
    inscription on his Discobolos, 108.

  Mys, carving by, 64.

  Myths, enchanting, 212.


  Naiads, 1.

  Narrow-mindedness, development of truth impeded by, 225.

  Naturalisti, motto of the, 232.

  Nature and art, 232.

  Nemesis, statue of, at Rhamnus, 67, 70, 71;
    inscription on, 109.

  Nero, 77, 79;
    like Macbeth, 243.

  Nestocles, 88.

  Nicephorus Chumnus, Apelles and Lysippus praised by, 132.

  Nicias, statues colored by, 153.

  Night, Michel Angelo’s colossal figure of, 14–21.


  Odeum, the, 52, 53.

  Olympia, the Temple of Zeus at, 53, 54.

  Opinion, arrogance of, development of truth impeded by, 225.

  Opinions but running streams, 229.

  Orcagna, the Loggia of, 6.

  Oreads, 1.

  Orpheus, as the Good Shepherd, 1.

  Othello, the trance of, unlike Macbeth’s aberration of mind, 249, 250.

  Ovid, quoted, 122, 151.


  Pæonios, 55, 88;
    works of, 92, 93.

  Pagan religion and pagan art, 1.

  Painting, and sculpture, 1;
    substances used by the ancients in, 145.

  Palazzo Farnese, the, 41.

  Pan, 1.

  Pantarces, a victor in the Olympian games, 129.

  Parrhasius, 64;
    paints portrait of himself, 132.

  Parthenon, the, sculptures in, 49, 50, 52–55;
    builders of, 51, 52;
    built between 444 and 438 B. C., 54;
    the extant fragments of, not in the style of Phidias, 84–86;
    probably executed by various hands, 94.

  Pasiteles, 135.

  Pauline Chapel, the, 11.

  Pausanias, statements by, 59, 64–71, 75, 91;
    the marble statues ascribed to Phidias by, 105–107;
    on the invention of casting in bronze, 137.

  Pelichus, statue of, by Demetrius, 130.

  Pensiero, Il, 18.

  Pericles, appoints Phidias director of public works in Athens, 49, 51;
    directs the building of the Odeum, 52;
    said by Strabo to have been director of public works, 52;
    sole administrator of public affairs, 53;
    likeness of, by Phidias, 60, 129.

  Perkins, Charles C., his “Du Moulage en Plâtre chez les Anciens,”
        115 ff.;
    confounds modeling and casting, 162.

  Perugino, 31.

  Peruzzi Chapel, the, 7.

  Petrarca, 3, 42;
    admired by Michel Angelo, 35.

  Petronius, cited, 90.

  Phædrus, quoted, 108.

  Phidias, 19;
    painter and architect, as well as sculptor, 43;
    and the Elgin marbles, 49–114;
    appointed director of public works by Pericles, 49;
    his chryselephantine statue of Athena, 50–68, 82, 83, 97, 98, 111;
    doubtful if he ever made statues in marble, 51, 98–113;
    testimony of Plutarch, 51, 52;
    of Strabo, 52;
    impossible for him to have done all the work that is attributed to
          him, 53–58, 63, 68;
    a slow and elaborate worker, 55;
    disadvantages of, 56, 57;
    date of his birth, 58–62;
    likeness of, by himself, 60, 129;
    works ascribed to, 62–68;
    incredible stories about, 71–73;
    peculiarly celebrated for his statues of Athena, 75;
    the Horse-Tamer, not the work of, 76–79;
    compared with Michel Angelo, 80;
    his style, 80, 81;
    elaboration of his great works, 81–84, 86;
    the Cellini of Athens, 84;
    introduces the art of making statues in ivory and gold, 87;
    estimation of, among his contemporaries, 96;
    Propertius and Quinctilian on, 98;
    appellation applied to, by Aristotle, 99–102;
    skill of, in the toreutic art, 101;
    marble statues ascribed to, by Pausanias, 105–107;
    prosecuted for impiety, 129.

  Phigaleia, the Temple of Apollo at, 53.

  Photias, 72.

  Phradmon, 67;
    competes with Phidias, 97.

  Phryne, portrait of, by Apelles, 132.

  Phyromachos, 94.

  Piece-moulds apparently not used by the ancient Greeks and Romans,
          156, 157, 176, 178.

  Pindar, quotation from, 206.

  Pius VIII., monument of, by Tenerani, 61.

  Plaster, the art of casting in, among the Greeks and Romans, 115–189.

  Platæa, 53, 59.

  Plautus, quoted, 121, 135.

  Pliny, cited, 65–68, 70, 71, 76, 89, 90;
    story by, about Phidias, Polyclitus, Ctesilaus, Cydon, and
          Phradmon, 97, 98;
    statements by, about Phidias, 103, 104;
    quotation from his Natural History, 116;
    meaning of the quotation considered, 117 ff.;
    the Natural History characterized, 118, 119;
    stories by, about Apelles and Parrhasius, 132, 133;
    Bostick and Riley’s translation of, 135;
    his use of the term “cera,” 144;
    chapter on “Plastices,” in the Natural History, 146–150;
    chapter on the honor attached to portraits, 150, 151.

  Plutarch, statements by, about Pericles and Phidias, 51, 52, 56, 57;
    quoted, 66.

  Plyntheria, the colossal Athena’s gold drapery washed at, 152.

  Poliziano, Angelo, teacher of Michel Angelo, 3, 10.

  Polybius, referred to, 146, _note_.

  Polyclitus, 67;
    his canon of proportion, 73;
    his works, 88, 89;
    compared with Phidias, 96, 97, 101;
    price received by, for his Doryphoros, 176.

  Polygnotus, the “Rape of Cassandra” by, 132.

  Polyxines, 6.

  Pompeii, works of art found in, 177.

  Pomponius Mela, cited, 70.

  Popes, the, and Michel Angelo, 12.

  Portrait statues, erection of, in public, seldom allowed by the
          Greeks, 129.

  Portraiture, in its true sense, the beginning of, 130;
    development of, by Lysippus and Lysistratus, 131;
    earliest specimen of, by a great painter, 132;
    use of, by the Romans, 150.

  Possis, excellent work of, 148.

  Praxias, 88, 92, 94, 95.

  Praxiteles, statue of Alexander taming Bucephalus, ascribed to,
        77, 78;
    praised by Lucian, 96;
    and Nicias, 153;
    price offered by Athens for the Venus of, 175.

  Pre-Raphaelites, error of the, 233.

  Printing, among the ancient Romans, 167.

  Propertius, quoted, 98.

  Propylæa, 53.

  Pulci, the three, 3.

  Pythagoras, 88.


  Quinctilian, quoted, 98, 125;
    criticises Demetrius, 130.

  Quincy, M. Quatremere de, on chryselephantine statues, 100.

  Quirinal Hill, statue of the Horse-Tamer on the, 67, 76.


  Racine, Molière and, 30.

  Raffaelle, 4, 8;
    and the Sistine Chapel, 24;
    and Michel Angelo, 30–33, 35;
    character and style of, 31;
    his finest work, 32;
    his early death, 32;
    characterized by contemporaries, 33;
    and the Fornarina, 31, 34;
    accomplished in many arts, 43.

  Ravenna, Dante’s grave at, 8.

  Reform, slow movement of, in England, 235.

  Rehoboam, group by Michel Angelo, 29.

  Religion, and art, hand in hand, 208;
    no system of, ever embraced all truth, 224.

  Religious controversy, nothing so bitter as, 225.

  Religious ideas, each age has its, 196.

  Renaissance, the, 3–5.

  Revolutionizing the world, 227.

  Rhamnus, statue of Nemesis at, 67, 70, 71.

  Rhœcus, cast in bronze, 136.

  Riches, denounced by Christ, 222.

  Riley and Bostick, translation of Pliny by, 135.

  Roman and Greek art, the spirit of, 19.

  Rousseau and Voltaire, 30.


  S. Justinus, 206.

  S. Theophilus Antiochenus, 206.

  Sallust, quoted, 152.

  San Gallo, Antonio, architect of St. Peter’s, 39.

  San Lorenzo, Church of, 9, 13.

  Santa Croce, Church of, 7, 8.

  Saurus, 107.

  Savonarola, 5;
    his influence on Michel Angelo, 17, 35.

  Scheffer, Ary, Delacroix and, 30.

  Scopas, 67;
    celebrated for heroic figures and demigods, 75;
    a worker in marble, 76.

  Sculpture, and idolatry, 1;
    considered more dignified than painting, by the Athenians, 133.

  Second-sight, Macbeth’s, 246.

  Secretive nature, the, always a puzzle to the frank nature, 244.

  Semele and Zagreus, 161.

  Seneca, quoted, 110;
    sentiments of, regarding God, 207, 208.

  Shakespeare, and Sir Philip Sidney, 30;
    testimony of, as to English actors, 235;
    interpreted by the Germans, 237;
    his meaning perverted on the English stage, 238, 240;
    no serious character of, rants like Macbeth, 251;
    a master-stroke of, 259;
    Iago and Macbeth his worst villains, 284;
    his weird sisters a new creation, 285.

  Sibylline verses, fragment of the, 206.

  Sibyls, representations of, by Michel Angelo, 27, 28.

  Siddons, Mrs., as Lady Macbeth, 239, 240, 264.

  Sidney, Sir Philip, Shakespeare and, 30.

  Sistine Chapel, the, 11;
    Michel Angelo’s frescoes in, 21–29, 44;
    opened to exhibit the frescoes in 1508 on All-Saints’ Day, 23.

  Sixtus V., 77.

  Smith, Philip, cited, 59, 61, 76.

  Socrates, 88.

  Solon, cited, 70.

  Sophocles, unity and universality of God proclaimed by, 200.

  Spartianus, statues modeled in plaster spoken of by, 160.

  St. Paul, quoted, 231.

  St. Peter’s, the Dome of, 5, 8, 11;
    Michel Angelo’s work upon, 39–42;
    the type of the universal church, 41;
    Michel Angelo not responsible for it as it now stands, 42;
    changes made in, by Carlo Maderno, 42.

  Sta. Maria degli Angeli, Church of, 41.

  Stage, tradition and convention on the English, 234–240.

  Statius, quoted, 144.

  Statues, ancient, singular defects in, 173.

  Strabo, statements by, about Pericles and Phidias, 52;
    opinion of, on the statue of Nemesis, at Rhamnus, 70;
    on the work of Polyclitus, 89, 96.

  Strozzi, Giovan’ Battista, quatrain by, 17.

  Suidas, 72.

  Sunium, 64.


  Tartuffe, Macbeth not like, 254.

  Tasso, 3, 42.

  Tenerani, 61.

  Tennyson, Browning and, 30.

  Terra cotta, an ancient manufactory of, 178.

  Tertullian, on the persecution of the Christians, 222.

  Themistius, a saying of, 56;
    cited, 80.

  Theocosmos, 67, 92;
    said to have been assisted by Phidias, 75.

  Theocritus, 206.

  Theodorus of Samos, cast in bronze, 136.

  Theophrastus, treatise on mineralogy by, 159.

  Thiersch, cited, 59, 61, 68.

  Thoughts, our whole nature colored by our, 229.

  Thrasymedes of Paros, 66, 70.

  Thundering Legion, the, true story of, 215, 216.

  Tintoretto, 4.

  Tiridates, King of Armenia, 77, 79.

  Titian, 4.

  Toreutic art, the, 100.

  Tradition, in English church and theatre, 235;
    Shakespeare’s meaning perverted by, 238, 240.

  Traditions about artists, unreliable, 74.

  Troughton, Mr., 233.

  Truth, infinite in form and spirit, 195;
    a continual progression towards the divine, 195;
    not all embraced in one system of religion, 224;
    the growth of, impeded by narrow-mindedness, 225.

  Tussaud, Madame, 154.

  Tzetzes the Grammarian, story told by, 72;
    an untrustworthy gossip, 73;
    on Phidias, 103.


  Urban VIII., 78.

  Urbino, Michel Angelo’s servant, 37.


  Valerius Maximus, quoted, 110, 111.

  Valerius Soranus, God represented by, as the Father and Mother of
          us all, 207.

  Valori, Bartolommeo, letter to, 21.

  Varro, quoted, as to the meaning of “cera,” 144.

  Vasari, Giorgio, doubtful assertion of, 25;
    on Raffaelle, 33;
    account by, of Verrocchio’s making casts, 188.

  Veronese, 4.

  Verrocchio, 43;
    casting in plaster introduced by, 188.

  Via Latina, tombs in the, 157.

  Vigenero, description of Michel Angelo by, 38.

  Villari, 3.

  Virgil, Homer and, 30;
    quoted, 122, 136.

  Visconti, quoted, 99, 100;
    his views examined, 100–104.

  Vitruvius, 145;
    description of process used in finishing walls by, 153.

  Voltaire, Rousseau and, 30.


  Walls, ancient process used in finishing, 153.

  Wardour Street, the portraits of, 152.

  Wax, the common vehicle of ancient painters, 144.

  “Weird Sisters,” the, but outward personifications of evil
          thoughts, 285.

  Welcker and Preller, cited, 59, 60.

  Wilkins, William, opinion of, on the Elgin marbles, 99.

  Wilson, Mr. Charles Heath, close examination of Michel Angelo’s
          frescoes by, 25.

  “Wisdom of Solomon,” the, cited, 150.

  Woman, superior to man in adjusting details, 259;
    unable to bear the remembrance of what she has gone through, 277.

  World, the, needs revolutionizing, 227.


  Xenocles of Cholargos, finishes the Temple of Initiation at
          Eleusis, 52.

  Xenophon, classes Polyclitus with Homer, Sophocles, and Zeuxis, as
          an artist, 89.


  Zacharias, figure of, by Michel Angelo, 27.

  Zagreus and Semele, 161.

  Zenobius, cited, 70.

  Zeus, chryselephantine statue of, by Phidias, 63, 59–63, 65, 81,
          86, 98, 209;
    inscription on, 109.

  Zeus, the Temple of, at Olympia, 53.



FOOTNOTES


    [1] Whether this inscription was placed there during the life
        of Phidias does not appear; but it is highly improbable,
        and not in harmony with the practice of the Greeks.

    [2] Themistius, Orat. adeum qui postulaverat ut ex tempore
        sermonem haberet.

    [3] τέκτονες, πλάσται, χαλκοτύποι, λιθουργοί, βαφεῖς, χρυσοῦ
        μαλακτῆρες καὶ ἐλέφαντος ζωγράφοι, ποικιλταῖ, τορευταῖ.
        This passage is generally cited as a statement by Plutarch
        that Phidias employed all these men; but in fact he is only
        urging, in justification of Pericles, and in answer to
        attacks made against him for expending such large sums of
        money in the public works, that these works gave employment
        to the enumerated classes of artists and mechanics.

    [4] The date of the birth of Pericles is unknown, but he began
        to take part in public affairs in B. C. 469, when he could
        not probably have been less than twenty-one years of age.
        This would place his birth at 490. He died in 429; and this
        reckoning would make him only sixty-one at his death.

    [5] A full transcript of these inscriptions will be found in
        Dr. Brunn’s _Geschichte der griechischen Künstler_, i. 249.

    [6] See Lysias’s Frag., Περὶ τοῦ τύπου; also, Müller’s _Ancient
        Art_, 360, and King’s _Antique Gems_.

    [7] “Non ex ebore tantum sciebat Phidias facere simulacrum,
        faciebat et ex ære. Si marmor illi, si adhuc viliorem
        materiam obtulisses, fecisset quale ex illa fieri optimum
        potuisset.”—Seneca, _Epist._ 86.

    [8] _Du Moulage en Plâtre chez les Anciens_, par M. Charles C.
        Perkins, correspondant de l’Académie des Beaux Arts, etc.
        Paris, 1869.

    [9] Pliny, _Nat. Hist._, lib. xxxv. ch. xii.

   [10] So also Fronto in his _De differentiis Vocabulorum_,
        published by Cardinal Mai from palimpsests, says: “Vultus
        proprie hominis—os omnium—facies plurium.”

   [11] According to Æschines, in his oration against Ctesiphon,
        Miltiades desired that his name should be inscribed on this
        portrait statue, which was placed in the Pœcile; but the
        Athenians refused their permission.

   [12] See _Cicero ad Atticum_, xii. 41.

   [13] iii. 12, § 13; viii. 14, § 5.

   [14] _Geschichte der griechischen Künstler_, vol. i. p. 403.

   [15] vii. 3, ii 8. See, also, Pliny, xxv. 49.

   [16] See, also, an account of these “imagines” in Polybius, vi.
        53.

   [17] Et quoniam animorum imagines non sunt, negliguntur etiam
        corporum. Aliter apud majores, in atriis hæc erant quæ
        spectarentur, non signa externorum artificum, nec æra
        aut marmora. Expressi cera vultus singulis disponebantur
        armariis ut essent imagines quæ comitarentur gentilicia
        funera.—Book 35, ch. 2.

   [18] Διαφέρην δὲ δοκεῖ καὶ πρὸς τὰ ἀπομάγματα πολὺ τῶν ἀλλῶν.

   [19] Lib. ix. ch. 23; Lib. i. ch. 40; Lib. viii. ch. 22.

   [20] Spartian., _Sev. Hadrian_, 22.

   [21] _De Errore Profanarum Religionum._ Vid. _Lobeck aglaopham_,
        p. 571.

   [22] As Lysistratus and his brother lived about the 114th
        Olympiad (324 B. C.), if these works found at Kertch were
        plaster _casts_, it is plain that Lysistratus did not
        invent casting, since these were before his time; and if
        Pliny means to say that he did, he is evidently quite wrong.

   [23] Pliny says “exemplar.”

   [24] Ἐτύγχανον μὲν ἄρτι χαλκουργῶν ὕπο Πιττούμενος στέρνον τε
        καὶ μετάφρενον· Θώραξ δέ μοι γελοῖος ἀμφὶ σώματι Πλασθεῖς
        παρῃώρητο μιμήλῃ τέχνῃ Σφραγῖδα χαλκοῦ πᾶσαν ἐκτυπούμενος.

   [25] See _Divin. Inst._, lib. i. c. 6.

   [26] Val. Soranus, cited by St. Augustine, _De Civit. Dei_, lib.
        vii. c. 9.

   [27] See these passages and others cited in S. Justinus,
        _Cohortat. ad Græc. et de Monarchia_; Clement of
        Alexandria, _Stromat._, lib. v., _et Admonitio ad Gentes_;
        S. Cyrillus Alexandrinus, _Contra Julianum_, lib. i.;
        Athenagoras, _Legat. pro Christian._; Theodoretus, _Graec.
        Affectionum: Curat_, lib. 7.

   [28]
                          “I have no spur
    To prick the sides of my intent, but only
    Vaulting ambition.”



Transcriber’s Notes


Punctuation, hyphenation, and spelling were made consistent when a
predominant preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not
changed.

Simple typographical errors were corrected; occasional unbalanced
quotation marks retained.

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained.

Index not checked for proper alphabetization or correct page references.





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