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Pliny,   Natural History

-   Book 35 ,   sections 1-100


Translated by H.Rackham (1952), with some minor alterations. Click on the L symbols to go to the Latin text of each chapter.


  ← Book 34

{1.} L   [1] We have now practically indicated the nature of metals, in which wealth consists, and of the substances related to them, connecting the facts in such a way as to indicate at the same time the enormous topic of medicine and the mysteries of the manufactories and the fastidious subtlety of the processes of carving and modelling and dyeing. There remain the various kinds of earth and of stones, forming an even more extensive series, each of which has been treated in many whole volumes, especially by Greeks. For our part in these topics we shall adhere to the brevity suitable to our plan, yet omitting nothing that is necessary or follows a law of Nature. [2] And first we shall say what remains to be said about painting, an art that was formerly illustrious, at the time when it was in high demand with kings and nations and when it ennobled others whom it deigned to transmit to posterity. But at the present time it has been entirely ousted by marbles, and indeed finally also by gold, and not only to the point that whole party-walls are covered - we have also marble engraved with designs and embossed marble slabs carved in wriggling lines to represent objects and animals. [3] We are no longer content with panels nor with surfaces displaying broadly a range of mountains in a bedchamber; we have begun even to paint on the masonry. This was invented in the principate of Claudius, while in the time of Nero a plan was discovered to give variety to uniformity by inserting markings that were not present in the embossed marble surface, so that Numidian stone might show oval lines and Synnadic marble be picked out with purple, just as fastidious luxury would have liked them to be by nature. These are our resources to supplement the mountains when they fail us, and luxury is always busy in the effort to secure that if a fire occurs it may lose as much as possible.

{2.} L   [4] The painting of portraits, used to transmit through the ages extremely correct likenesses of persons, has entirely gone out. Bronze shields are now set up as monuments with a design in silver, with a dim outline of men's figures; heads of statues are exchanged for others about which before now actually sarcastic epigrams have been current: so universally is a display of material preferred to a recognizable likeness of one's own self. And in the midst of all this, people tapestry the walls of their picture-galleries with old pictures, and they prize likenesses of strangers, while as for themselves they imagine that the honour only consists in the price, for their heir to break up the statue and haul it out of the house with a noose. [5] Consequently nobody's likeness lives and they leave behind them portraits that represent their money, not themselves. The same people decorate even their own anointing-rooms with portraits of athletes of the wrestling-ring, and display all round their bedrooms and carry about with them likenesses of Epicurus; they offer sacrifices on his birthday, and keep his festival, which they call the eikas on the 20th day of every month - these of all people, whose desire it is not to be known even when alive! That is exactly how things are: indolence has destroyed the arts, and since our minds cannot be portrayed, our bodily features are also neglected. [6] In the halls of our ancestors it was otherwise; portraits were the objects displayed to be looked at, not statues by foreign artists, nor bronzes nor marbles, but wax models of faces were set out each on a separate sideboard, to furnish likenesses to be carried in procession at a funeral in the clan {gens}, and always when some member of it passed away the entire company of his house that had ever existed was present. The pedigrees too were traced in a spread of lines running near the several painted portraits. [7] The archive-rooms were kept filled with books of records and with written memorials of official careers. Outside the houses and round the doorways there were other presentations of those mighty spirits, with spoils taken from the enemy fastened to them, which even one who bought the house was not permitted to unfasten, and the mansions eternally celebrated a triumph even though they changed their masters. This acted as a mighty incentive, when every day the very walls reproached an unwarlike owner with intruding on the triumphs of another! [8] There is extant an indignant speech by the pleader Messala protesting against the insertion among the likenesses of his family of a bust not belonging to them but to the family of the Laevini. A similar reason extracted from old Messala the volumes he composed 'On Families,' because when passing through the hall of Scipio Pomponianus he had observed the Salvittones - that was their former surname - in consequence of an act of adoption by will creeping into others' preserves, to the discredit of the Scipios called Africanus. But the Messala family must excuse me if I say that even to lay a false claim to the portraits of famous men showed some love for their virtues, and was much more honourable than to entail by one's conduct that nobody should seek to obtain one's own portraits!

[9] We must not pass over a novelty that has also been invented, in that likenesses made, if not of gold or statues in silver, yet at all events of bronze are set up in the libraries in honour of those whose immortal spirits speak to us in the same places, nay more, even imaginary likenesses are modelled and our affection gives birth to countenances that have not been handed down to us, as occurs in the case of Homer. [10] At any rate in my view at all events there is no greater kind of happiness than that all people for all time should desire to know what kind of a man a person was. At Rome this practice originated with Asinius Pollio, who first by founding a library made works of genius the property of the public. Whether this practice began earlier, with the kings of Alexandria and of Pergamum, between whom there had been such a keen competition in founding libraries, I cannot readily say. [11] The existence of a strong passion for portraits in former days is evidenced by Atticus the friend of Cicero in the volume he published on the subject and by the most benevolent invention of Marcus Varro, who actually by some means inserted in a prolific output of volumes portraits of seven hundred famous people, not allowing their likenesses to disappear or the lapse of ages to prevail against immortality in men. Herein Varro was the inventor of a benefit that even the gods might envy, since he not only bestowed immortality but despatched it all over the world, enabling his subjects to be ubiquitous, like the gods. This was a service Varro rendered to strangers.

{3.} L   [12] But the first person to institute the custom of privately dedicating the shields with portraits in a temple or public place, I find, was Appius Claudius, the consul with Publius Servilius in the 259th year of the city {495 BC}. He set up his ancestors in the shrine of the Goddess of War {Bellona}, and desired them to be in full view on an elevated spot, and the inscriptions stating their honours to be read. This is a seemly device, especially if miniature likenesses of a swarm of children at the sides display a sort of brood of nestlings; shields of this description everybody views with pleasure and approval.

{4.} L   [13] After him Marcus Aemilius, Quintus Lutatius's colleague in the consulship {78 BC}, set up portrait-shields not only in the Basilica Aemilia but also in his own home, and in doing this he was following a truly warlike example; for the shields which contained the likenesses resembled those employed in the fighting at Troy; and this indeed gave them their name of clupei, which is not derived from the word meaning 'to be celebrated,' as the misguided ingenuity of scholars has made out. It is a copious inspiration of valour for there to be a representation on a shield of the countenance of him who once used it. [14] The Carthaginians habitually made both shields and statues of gold, and carried these with them: at all events Marcius, who took vengeance for the Scipios in Spain, found a shield of this kind that belonged to Hasdrubal, in that general's camp when he captured it, and this shield was hung above the portals of the temple on the Capitol till the first fire {83 BC}. Indeed it is noticed that our ancestors felt so little anxiety about this matter that in the 575th year of the city {179 BC}, when the consuls were Lucius Manlius and Quintus Fulvius, the person who contracted for the safety of the Capitol, Marcus Aufidius, informed the Senate that the shields which for a good many censorship periods past had been scheduled as made of bronze were really silver.

{5.} L   [15] The question as to the origin of the art of painting is uncertain and it does not belong to the plan of this work. The Egyptians declare that it was invented among themselves six thousand years ago before it passed over into Greece - which is clearly an idle assertion. As to the Greeks, some of them say it was discovered at Sicyon, others in Corinth, but all agree that it began with tracing an outline round a man's shadow and consequently that pictures were originally done in this way, but the second stage when a more elaborate method had been invented was done in a single colour and called monochrome, a method still in use at the present day. [16] Line-drawing was invented by the Egyptian Philocles or by the Corinthian Cleanthes, but it was first practised by the Corinthian Aridices and the Sicyonian Telephanes - these were at that stage not using any colour, yet already adding lines here and there to the interior of the outlines; hence it became their custom to write on the pictures the names of the persons represented. Ecphantus of Corinth is said to have been the first to daub these drawings with a pigment made of powdered earthenware. We shall show below { 35.152 } that this was another person, bearing the same name, not the one recorded by Cornelius Nepos to have followed into Italy Demaratus the father of the Roman king Tarquinius Priscus, when he fled from Corinth to escape the violence of the tyrant Cypselus.

{6.} L   [17] For the art of painting had already been brought to perfection even in Italy. At all events there survive even today in the temples at Ardea paintings that are older than the city of Rome, which to me at all events are incomparably remarkable, surviving for so long a period as though freshly painted, although unprotected by a roof. Similarly at Lanuvium, where there are an Atalanta and a Helena close together, nude figures, painted by the same artist, each of outstanding beauty (the former shown as a virgin), and not damaged even by the collapse of the temple. [18] The Emperor Caligula from lustful motives attempted to remove them, but the consistency of the plaster would not allow this to be done. There are pictures surviving at Caere that are even older. And whoever carefully judges these works will admit that none of the arts reached full perfection more quickly, inasmuch as it is clear that painting did not exist in the Trojan period.

{7.} L   [19] In Rome also honour was fully attained by this art at an early date, inasmuch as a very distinguished clan of the Fabii derived from it their surname of Pictor, 'Painter,' and the first holder of the name himself painted the Temple of Health {Salus} in the year 450 from the foundation of the City {304 BC}: the work survived down to our own period, when the temple was destroyed by fire in the principate of Claudius. Next in celebrity was a painting by the poet Pacuvius in the temple of Hercules in the Cattle Market {Forum Boarium}. Pacuvius was the son of a sister of Ennius, and he added distinction to the art of painting at Rome by reason of his fame as a playwright. [20] After Pacuvius, painting was not esteemed as handiwork for persons of station, unless one chooses to recall a knight of Rome named Turpilius, from Venetia, in our own generation, because of his beautiful works still surviving at Verona. Turpilius painted with his left hand, a thing recorded of no preceding artist. Titedius Labeo, a man of praetorian rank who had actually held the office of proconsul of the province of Narbonensis, and who died lately in extreme old age, used to be proud of his miniatures, but this was laughed at and actually damaged his reputation. [21] There was also a celebrated debate on the subject of painting held between some men of eminence which must not be omitted, when the former consul and winner of a triumph Quintus Pedius, who was appointed by the dictator Caesar as his joint heir with Augustus, had a grandson Quintus Pedius who was born dumb; in this debate the orator Messala, of whose family the boy's grandmother had been a member, gave the advice that the boy should have lessons in painting, and the deified Augustus also approved of the plan. The child made great progress in the art, but died before he grew up. [22] But painting chiefly derived its rise to esteem at Rome, in my judgement, from Manius Valerius Maximus Messala, who in the year 490 after the foundation of the city {264 BC} first showed a picture in public on a side wall of the Curia Hostilia: the subject being the battle in Sicily in which he had defeated the Carthaginians and Hiero. The same thing was also done by Lucius Scipio, who put up in the Capitol a picture of his Asiatic victory; this is said to have annoyed his brother Africanus, not without reason, as his son had been taken prisoner in that battle. [23] Also Lucius Hostilius Mancinus who had been the first to force an entrance into Carthage incurred a very similar offence with Aemilianus by displaying in the forum a picture of the plan of the city and of the attacks upon it and by himself standing by it and describing to the public looking on the details of the siege, a piece of popularity-hunting which won him the consulship at the next election {145 BC}. Also the stage erected for the shows given by Claudius Pulcher {99 BC} won great admiration for its painting, as crows were seen trying to alight on the roof tiles represented on the scenery, quite taken in by its realism.

{8.} L   [24] The high esteem attached officially to foreign paintings at Rome originated from Lucius Mummius who from his victory received the surname of Achaicus. At the sale of captured booty king Attalus bought for 600,000 denarii a picture of Father Liber or Dionysus by Aristides, but the price surprised Mummius, who suspecting there must be some merit in the picture of which he was himself unaware had the picture called back, in spite of Attalus's strong protests, and placed it in the shrine of Ceres: the first instance, I believe, of a foreign picture becoming state-property at Rome. [25] After this I see that they were commonly placed even in the forum: to this is due the famous witticism of the pleader Crassus, when appearing in a case Below The Old Shops; a witness called kept asking him: 'Now tell me, Crassus, what sort of a person do you take me to be?' 'That sort of a person,' said Crassus, pointing to a picture of a Gaul putting out his tongue in a very unbecoming fashion. It was also in the forum that there was the picture of the Old Shepherd with his Staff, about which the Teuton envoy when asked what he thought was the value of it said that he would rather not have even the living original as a gift!

{9.} L   [26] But it was the dictator Caesar who gave outstanding public importance to pictures by dedicating paintings of Ajax and Medea in front of the temple of Venus Genetrix {46 BC}; and after him Marcus Agrippa, a man who stood nearer to rustic simplicity than to refinements. At all events there is preserved a speech of Agrippa, lofty in tone and worthy of the greatest of the citizens, on the question of making all pictures and statues national property, a procedure which would have been preferable to banishing them to country houses. However, that same severe spirit paid the city of Cyzicus 1,200,000 sesterces for two pictures, an Ajax and an Aphrodite; he had also had small paintings let into the marble even in the warmest part of his Hot Baths; which were removed a short time ago when the Baths were being repaired.

{10.} L   [27] The deified Augustus went beyond all others, in placing two pictures in the most frequented part of his forum, one with a likeness of War and Triumph, and one with the Castors and Victory. He also erected in the temple of his father Caesar pictures we shall specify in giving the names of artists { 35.91 }. He likewise let into a wall in the curia which he was dedicating in the comitium {29 BC}: a Nemea seated on a lion, holding a palm-branch in her hand, and standing at her side an old man leaning on a stick and with a picture of a two-horse chariot hung up over his head, on which there was an inscription saying that it was an encaustic design - such is the term which he employed - by Nicias. [28] The second picture is remarkable for displaying the close family likeness between a son in the prime of life and an elderly father, allowing for the difference of age: above them soars an eagle with a snake in its claws; Philochares has stated this work to be by him showing the immeasurable power exercised by art if one merely considers this picture alone, inasmuch as thanks to Philochares two otherwise quite obscure persons Glaucio and his son Aristippus after all these centuries have passed still stand in the view of the senate of the Roman nation! The most ungracious emperor Tiberius also placed pictures in the temple of Augustus himself which we shall soon mention { 35.131 }. Thus much for the dignity of this now expiring art.

{11.} L   [29] We stated what were the various single colours used by the first painters when we were discussing while on the subject of metals the pigments called monochromes from the class of painting for which they are used. Subsequent inventions and their authors and dates we shall specify in enumerating the artists, because a prior motive for the work now in hand is to indicate the nature of colours. Eventually art differentiated itself, and discovered light and shade, contrast of colours heightening their effect reciprocally. Then came the final adjunct of shine, quite a different thing from light. The opposition between shine and light on the one hand and shade on the other was called contrast, while the juxtaposition of colours and their passage one into another was termed attunement.

{12.} L   [30] Some colours are sombre and some brilliant, the difference being due to the nature of the substances or to their mixture. The brilliant colours, which the patron supplies at his own expense to the painter, are cinnabar, Armenium, dragon's blood, gold-solder, indigo, bright purple; the rest are sombre. Of the whole list some are natural colours and some artificial. Natural colours are sinopis, ruddle, Paraetonium, Melinum, Eretrian earth and orpiment; all the rest are artificial, and first of all those which we specified among minerals, and moreover among the commoner kinds yellow ochre, burnt lead acetate, realgar, sandyx, Syrian colour and black.

{13.} L   [31] Sinopis was first discovered in Pontus, and hence takes its name from the city of Sinope. It is also produced in Egypt, the Balearic Islands and Africa, but the best is what is extracted from the caverns of Lemnos and Cappadocia, the part found adhering to the rock being rated highest. The lumps of it are self-coloured, but speckled on the outside. It was employed in old times to give a glow. There are three kinds of Sinopis, the red, the faintly red and the intermediate. The price of the best is 2 denarii a pound: this is used for painting with a brush or else for colouring wood; [32] the kind imported from Africa costs 8 as-pieces a pound, and is called chick-pea colour; it is of a deeper red than the other kinds, and more useful for panels. The same price is charged for the kind called 'low toned' which is of a very dusky colour. It is employed for the lower parts of panelling; but used as a drug it has a soothing effect in lozenges and plasters and poultices, mixing easily either dry or moistened, as a remedy for ulcers in the humid parts of the body such as the mouth and the anus. Used in an enema it arrests diarrhoea, and taken through the mouth in doses of one denarius weight it checks menstruation. Applied in a burnt state, particularly with wine, it dries roughnesses of the eyes.

{14.} L   [33] Some persons have wished to make out that Sinopis only consists in a kind of red-ochre of inferior quality, as they gave the palm to the red ochre of Lemnos. This last approximates very closely to cinnabar and it was very famous in old days, together with the island that produces it; it used only to be sold in sealed packages, from which it got the name of 'seal red-ochre.' It is used to supply an undercoating to cinnabar and also for adulterating cinnabar. [34] In medicine it is a substance ranked very highly. Used as a liniment round the eyes it relieves defluxions and pains, and checks the discharge from eye-tumours; it is given in vinegar as a draught in cases of vomiting or spitting blood. It is also taken as a draught for troubles of the spleen and kidneys and for excessive menstruation; and likewise as a remedy for poisons and snake bites and the sting of sea serpents; hence it is in common use for all antidotes.

{15.} L   [35] Among the remaining kinds of red ochre the most useful for builders are the Egyptian and the African varieties, as they are most thoroughly absorbed by plaster. Red ochre is also found in a native state in iron mines.

{16.} L   It is also manufactured by burning ochre in new earthen pots lined with clay. The more completely it is calcined in the furnaces the better its quality. All kinds of red ochre have a drying property, and consequently will be found suitable in plasters even for erysipelas.

{17.} L   [36] Half a pound of sinopis from Pontus, ten pounds of bright yellow ochre and two pounds of Greek earth of Melos mixed together and pounded up for twelve successive days make 'leucophorum,' a cement used in applying gold-leaf to wood.

{18.} L   Paraetonium is called after the place of that name in Egypt. It is said to be sea-foam hardened with mud, and this is why tiny shells are found in it. It also occurs in the island of Crete and in Cyrene. At Rome it is adulterated with Cimolian clay which has been boiled and thickened. The price of the best quality is 50 denarii per 6 pounds. It is the most greasy of all the white colours and makes the most tenacious for plasters because of its smoothness.

{19.} L   [37] Melinum also is a white colour, the best occurring in the island of Melos. It is found in Samos also, but the Samian is not used by painters, because it is excessively greasy. It is dug up in Samos by people lying on the ground and searching for a vein among the rocks. It has the same use in medicine as earth of Eretria; it also dries the tongue by contact, and acts as a depilatory, with a cleansing effect. It costs a sesterce per pound.

The third of the white pigments is ceruse or lead acetate, the nature of which we have stated in speaking of the ores of lead. There was also once a native ceruse found on the estate of Theodotus at Smyrna, which was employed in old days for painting ships. At the present time all ceruse is manufactured from lead and vinegar, as we said.

{20.} L   [38] Burnt ceruse was discovered by accident, when some was burnt up in jars in a fire at Piraeus. It was first employed by Nicias above mentioned. Asiatic ceruse is now thought the best; it is also called purple ceruse and it costs 6 denarii per pound. It is also made at Rome by calcining yellow ochre which is as hard as marble and quenching it with vinegar. Burnt ceruse is indispensable for representing shadows.

{21.} L   Eretrian earth is named from the country that produces it. It was employed by Nicomachus and Parrhasius. It has cooling and emollient effects and fills lip wounds; if boiled it is prescribed as a desiccative, and is useful for pains in the head and for detecting internal suppurations, as these are shown to be present if when it is applied with water it immediately dries up.

{22.} L   [39] According to Juba sandarach or realgar and ochre are products of the island of Topazus in the Red Sea, but they are not imported from those parts to us. We have stated the method of making sandarach. An adulterated sandarach is also made from ceruse boiled in a furnace. It ought to be flame-coloured. Its price is 5 asses per pound.

{23.} L   [40] If ceruse is mixed with red ochre in equal quantities and burnt, it produces sandyx or vermilionthough it is true that I observe Virgil held the view that sandyx is a plant, from the line:
  Sandyx self-grown shall clothe the pasturing lambs.   { Ecl. 4.45 }

Its cost per pound is half that of sandarach. No other colours weigh heavier than these.

{24.} L   Among the artificial colours is also Syrian colour, which as we said is used as an undercoating for cinnabar and red lead. It is made by mixing sinopis and sandyx together.

{25.} L   [41] Black pigment will also be classed among the artificial colours, although it is also derived from earth in two ways; it either exudes from the earth like the brine in salt pits, or actual earth of a sulphur colour is approved for the purpose. Painters have been known to dig up charred remains from graves thus violated to supply it. All these plans are troublesome and new-fangled; for black paint can he made in a variety of ways from the soot produced by burning resin or pitch, owing to which factories have actually been built with no exit for the smoke produced by this process. The most esteemed black paint is obtained in the same way from the wood of the pitch-pine. It is adulterated by mixing it with the soot of furnaces and baths, which is used as a material for writing. [42] Some people calcine dried wine-lees, and declare that if the lees from a good wine are used this ink has the appearance of Indian ink. The very celebrated painters Polygnotus and Micon at Athens made black paint from the skins of grapes, and called it grape-lees ink. Apelles invented the method of making black from burnt ivory; the Greek name for this is elephantinon.

[43] There is also an Indian black, imported from India, the composition of which I have not yet discovered. A black is also produced with dyes from the black florescence which adheres to bronze pans. One is also made by burning logs of pitch-pine and pounding the charcoal in a mortar. The cuttlefish has, a remarkable property in forming a black secretion, but no colour is made from this. The preparation of all black is completed by exposure to the sun, black for writing ink receiving an admixture of gum and black for painting walls an admixture of glue. Black pigment that has been dissolved in vinegar is difficult to wash out.

{26.} L   [44] Among the remaining colours which because of their high cost, as we said, are supplied by patrons, dark purple holds the first place. It is produced by dipping silversmiths' earth along with purple cloth and in like manner, the earth absorbing the colour more quickly than the wool. The best is that which being the first formed in the boiling cauldron becomes saturated with the dyes in their primary state, and the next best produced when white earth is added to the same liquor after the first has been removed; and every time this is done the quality deteriorates, the liquid becoming more diluted at each stage. [45] The reason why the dark purple of Puteoli is more highly praised than that of Tyre or Gaetulia or Laconia, places which produce the most costly purples, is that it combines most easily with hysginum and madder which cannot help absorbing it. The cheapest comes from Canusium. The price is from one to thirty denarii per pound. Painters using it put a coat of sandyx underneath and then add a coat of dark purple mixed with egg, and so produce the brilliance of cinnabar; if they wish instead to produce the glow of purple, they lay a coat of blue underneath, and then cover this with dark purple mixed with egg.

{27.} L   [46] Of next greatest importance after this is indigo, a product of India, being a slime that adheres to the scum upon reeds. When it is sifted out it is black, but in dilution it yields a marvellous mixture of purple and blue. There is another kind of it that floats on the surface of the pans in the purple dye-shops, and this is the 'scum of purple.' People who adulterate it stain pigeons' droppings with genuine indigo, or else colour earth of Selinus or ring-earth with woad. It can be tested by means of a live coal, as if genuine it gives off a brilliant purple flame and a smell of the sea while it smokes; on this account some people think that it is collected from rocks on the coast. The price of indigo is 20 denarii per pound. Used medicinally it allays cramps and fits and dries up sores.

{28.} L   [47] Armenia sends us the substance named after it, Armenian. This also is a mineral that is dyed like malachite, and the best is that which most closely approximates to that substance, the colour partaking also of dark blue. Its price used to be rated at 300 sesterces per pound. A sand has been found all over the Spanish provinces that admits of similar preparation, and accordingly the price has dropped to as low as six denarii. It differs from dark blue by a light white glow which renders this blue colour thinner in comparison. It is only used in medicine to give nourishment to the hair, and especially the eyelashes.

{29.} L   [48] There are also two colours of a very cheap class that have been recently discovered: one is the green called Appian, which counterfeits malachite; just as if there were too few spurious varieties of it already! It is made from a green earth and is valued at a sesterce per pound.

{30.} L   The other colour is that called 'ring-white,' which is used to give brilliance of complexion in paintings of women. This itself also is made from white earth mixed with glass stones from the rings of the lower classes, which accounts for the name 'ring-white.'

{31.} L   [49] Of all the colours those which love a dry surface of white clay, and refuse to be applied to a damp plaster, are purple, indigo, blue, Melian, orpiment, Appian and ceruse. Wax is stained with these same colours for encaustic paintings, a sort of process which cannot be applied to walls but is common for ships of the navy, and indeed nowadays also for cargo vessels, since we even decorate vehicles with paintings, so that no one need be surprised that even logs for funeral pyres are painted; and we like gladiators going into the fray to ride in splendour to the scene of their death or at all events of carnage. Thus to contemplate all these numbers and great variety of colours prompts us to marvel at former generations.

{32.} L   [50] Four colours only were used by the illustrious painters Apelles, Aetion, Melanthius and Nicomachus to execute their immortal works - of whites, Melinum; of yellow ochres, Attic; of reds, Pontic Sinopis; of blacks, atramentum - although their pictures each sold for the wealth of a whole town. Nowadays when purple finds its way even on to party-walls and when India contributes the mud of her rivers and the gore of her snakes and elephants, there is no such thing as high-class painting. Everything in fact was superior in the days when resources were scantier. The reason for this is that, as we said before, it is values of material and not of genius that people are now on the lookout for.

{33.} L   [51] One folly of our generation also in the matter of painting I will not leave out. The Emperor Nero had ordered his portrait to be painted on a colossal scale, on linen 120 ft. high, a thing unknown hitherto; this picture when finished, in the Gardens of Maius, was struck by lightning and destroyed by fire, together with the best part of the Gardens. [52] When a freedman of Nero was giving at Antium a gladiatorial show, the public porticoes were covered with paintings, so we are told, containing life-like portraits of all the gladiators and assistants. This portraiture of gladiators has been the highest interest in art for many generations now; but it was Gaius Terentius Lucanus who began the practice of having pictures made of gladiatorial shows and exhibited in public; in honour of his grandfather who had adopted him he provided thirty pairs of gladiators in the forum for three consecutive days, and exhibited a picture of their matches in the Grove of Diana.

{34.} L   [53] I will now run through as briefly as possible the artists eminent in painting; and it is not consistent with the plan of this work to go into such detail; and accordingly it will be enough just to give the names of some of them even in passing and in course of mentioning others, with the exception of the famous works of art which whether still extant or now lost it will be proper to particularise.

[54] In this department the exactitude of the Greeks is inconsistent, in placing the painters many Olympiads after the sculptors in bronze and chasers in metal, and putting the first in the 90th Olympiad {420-417 BC}, although it is said that even Phidias himself was a painter to begin with, and that there was a shield at Athens that had been painted by him; and although moreover it is universally admitted that his brother Panaenus came in the 83rd Olympiad {448-445 BC}, who painted the inner surface of a shield of Athene at Elis made by Colotes, Phidias's pupil and assistant in making the statue of Olympian Zeus. [55] And then, is it not equally admitted that Candaules, the last King of Lydia of the Heraclid line, who was also commonly known by the name of Myrsilus, gave its weight in gold for a picture of the painter Bularchus representing a battle 'with the Magnetes.' So high was the value already set on the art of painting. This must have occurred at about the time of Romulus, since Candaules died in the 18th Olympiad {708-705 BC}, or, according to some accounts, in the same year as Romulus {c. 717 BC}, making it clear, if I am not mistaken, and that the art had already achieved celebrity, and in fact a perfection. [56] And if we are bound to accept this conclusion, it becomes clear at the same time that the first stages were at a much earlier date and that the painters in monochrome, whose date is not handed down to us, came considerably earlier - Hygiaenon, Dinias, Charmadas and Eumarus of Athens, the last being the earliest artist to distinguish the male from the female sex in painting, and venturing to reproduce every sort of figure; and Cimon of Cleonae who improved on the inventions of Eumarus. It was Cimon who first invented 'catagrapha,' that is, images in 'three-quarter,' and who varied the aspect of the features, representing them as looking backward or upward or downward; he showed the attachments of the limbs, displayed the veins, and moreover introduced wrinkles and folds in the drapery. [57] Indeed the brother of Phidias Panaenus even painted the Battle at Marathon between the Athenians and Persians; so widely established had the employment of colour now become and such perfection of art had been attained that he is said to have introduced actual portraits of the generals who commanded in that battle, Miltiades, Callimachus and Cynaegirus on the Athenian side and Datis and Artaphernes on that of the barbarians.

{35.} L   [58] Nay more, during the time that Panaenus flourished competitions in painting were actually instituted at Corinth and at Delphi, and on the first occasion of all Panaenus competed against Timagoras of Chalcis, being defeated by him, at the Pythian Games, a fact clearly shown by an ancient poem of Timagoras himself, the chronicles undoubtedly being in error.

After those and before the 90th Olympiad {420-417 BC} there were other celebrated painters also, such as Polygnotus of Thasos who first represented women in transparent draperies and showed their heads and covered with a parti-coloured headdress; and he first contributed many improvements to the art of painting, as he introduced showing the mouth wide open and displaying the teeth and giving expression to the countenance in place of the primitive rigidity. [59] There is a picture by this artist in the Portico of Pompeius which formerly hung in front of the Curia which he built, in which it is doubtful whether the figure of a man with a shield is painted as going up or as coming down. Polygnotus painted the temple at Delphi and the colonnade at Athens called Painted Portico {Stoa Poikilē}, doing his work without pay, although a part of the work was painted by Micon who received a fee. Indeed Polygnotus was held in higher esteem, as the Amphictyones, who are a General Council of Greece, voted him entertainment at the public expense. There was also another Micon, distinguished from the first by the surname of the Younger, whose daughter Timarete also painted.

{36.} L   [60] In the 90th Olympiad {420-417 BC} lived Aglaophon, Cephisodorus, Erillus, and Evenor the father and teacher of Parrhasius, a very great painter (about Parrhasius we shall have to speak when we come to his period). All these are now artists of note, yet not figures over which our discourse should linger in its haste to arrive at the luminaries of the art; first among whom shone out Apollodorus of Athens, in the 93rd Olympiad {408-405 BC}. Apollodorus was the first artist to give realistic presentation of objects, and the first to confer glory as of right upon the paint brush. His are the Priest at Prayer and Ajax struck by Lightning, the latter to be seen at Pergamum at the present day. There is no painting now on view by any artist before Apollodorus that arrests the attention of the eyes.

[61] The gates of art having been now thrown open by Apollodorus, they were entered by Zeuxis of Heraclea in the 4th year of the 95th Olympiad {397/6 BC}, who led forward the already not unadventurous paintbrush - for this is what we are still speaking of - to great glory. Some writers erroneously place Zeuxis in the 89th Olympiad {424-421 BC}, when Demophilus of Himera and Neseus of Thasos must have been his contemporaries, as of one of them, it is uncertain which, he was a pupil. [62] Of Zeuxis, Apollodorus above recorded wrote an epigram in a line of poetry to the effect that 'Zeuxis robbed his masters of their art and carried it off with him.' Also he acquired such great wealth that he advertised it at Olympia by displaying his own name embroidered in gold lettering on the checked pattern of his robes. Afterwards he set about giving away his works as presents, saying that it was impossible for them to be sold at any price adequate to their value: for instance he presented his Alcmena to the city of Agrigentum and his Pan to Archelaus. [63] He also did a Penelope in which the picture seems to portray morality, and an Athlete, in the latter case being so pleased with his own work that he wrote below it a line of verse which has hence become famous, to the effect that it would be easier for someone to carp at him than to copy him. His Zeus seated on a throne with the gods standing by in attendance is also a magnificent work, and so is the Infant Heracles throttling two snakes in the presence of his mother Alcmena, looking on in alarm, and of Amphitryon. [64] Nevertheless Zeuxis is criticized for making the heads and joints of his figures too large in proportion, albeit he was so scrupulously careful that when he was going to produce a picture for the city of Agrigentum to dedicate at the public cost in the temple of Lacinian Hera he held an inspection of maidens of the place paraded naked and chose five, for the purpose of reproducing in the picture the most admirable points in the form of each. He also painted monochromes in white. His contemporaries and rivals were Timanthes, Androeydes, Eupompus and Parrhasius. [65] This last, it is recorded, entered into a competition with Zeuxis, who produced a picture of grapes so successfully represented that birds flew up to the stage-buildings; whereupon Parrhasius himself produced such a realistic picture of a curtain that Zeuxis, proud of the verdict of the birds, requested that the curtain should now be drawn and the picture displayed; and when he realized his mistake, with a modesty that did him honour he yielded up the prize, saying that whereas he had deceived birds Parrhasius had deceived him, an artist. [66] It is said that Zeuxis also subsequently painted a Child Carrying Grapes, and when birds flew to the fruit with the same frankness as before he strode up to the picture in anger with it and said, I have painted the grapes better than the child, as if I had made a success of that as well, the birds would inevitably have been afraid of it. He also executed works in clay, the only works of art that were left at Ambracia when Fulvius Nobilior removed the statues of the Muses from that place to Rome {189 BC}. There is at Rome a Helena by Zeuxis in the Porticoes of Philippus, and a Marsyas Bound, in the Shrine of Concord.

[67] Parrhasius also, a native of Ephesus contributed much to painting, he was the first to give proportions to painting and the first to give vivacity to the expression of the countenance, elegance of the hair and beauty of the mouth; indeed it is admitted by artists that he won the palm in the drawing of outlines. This in painting is the high-water mark of refinement; to paint bulk and the surface within the outlines, though no doubt a great achievement, is one in which many have won distinction, but to give the contour of the figures, and make a satisfactory boundary where the painting within finishes, is rarely attained in successful artistry. [68] For the contour ought to round itself off and so terminate as to suggest the presence of other parts behind it also, and disclose even what it hides. This is the distinction conceded to Parrhasius by Antigonus and Xenocrates who have written on the art of painting, and they do not merely admit it but actually advertise it. And there are many other pen-sketches a still extant among his panels and parchments, from which it is said that artists derive profit. Nevertheless he seems to fall below his own level in giving expression to the surface of the body inside the outline. [69] His picture of the People of Athens also shows ingenuity in treating the subject, since he displayed them as fickle, choleric, unjust and variable, but also placable and merciful and compassionate, boastful [and . . .], lofty and humble, fierce and timid - and all these at the same time. He also painted a Theseus which was once in the Capitol at Rome, and a Naval Commander in a Cuirass, and in a single picture now at Rhodes figures of Meleager, Heracles and Perseus. This last picture has been three times struck by lightning at Rhodes without being effaced, a circumstance which in itself enhances the wonder felt for it. [70] He also painted a High Priest of Cybele, a picture for which the Emperor Tiberius conceived an affection and kept it shut up in his bedchamber, the price at which it was valued according to Deculo being 6,000,000 sesterces. He also painted a Thracian Nurse with an Infant in her Arms, a Philiscus, and a Father Liber or Dionysus attended by Virtue, and Two Children in which the carefree simplicity of childhood is clearly displayed, and also a Priest attended by Boy with Incense-box and Chaplet. [71] There are also two very famous pictures by him, a Runner in the Race in Full Armour who actually seems to sweat with his efforts, and the other a Runner in Full Armour {Hoplitodromos}Taking off his Arms, so lifelike that he can be perceived to be panting for breath. His Aeneas, Castor and Pollux {Polydeuces}, all in the same picture, are also highly praised, and likewise his group of Telephus with Achilles, Agamemnon and Odysseus. Parrhasius was a prolific artist, but one who enjoyed the glory of his art with unparalleled arrogance, for he actually adopted certain surnames, calling himself the 'Bon Viveur,' and in some other verses 'Prince of Painters,' who had brought the art to perfection, and above all saying he was sprung from the lineage of Apollo and that his picture of Heracles at Lindos presented the hero as he had often appeared to him in his dreams. [72] Consequently when defeated by Timanthes at Samos by a large majority of votes, the subject of the pictures being Ajax and the Award of the Arms, he used to declare in the name of his hero that he was indignant at having been defeated a second time by an unworthy opponent. He also painted some smaller pictures of an immodest nature, taking his recreation in this sort of wanton amusement.

[73] To return to Timanthes - he had a very high degree of genius. Orators have sung the praises of his Iphigenia, who stands at the altar awaiting her doom; the artist has shown all present full of sorrow, and especially her uncle, and has exhausted all the indications of grief, yet has veiled the countenance of her father himself whom he was unable adequately to portray. [74] There are also other examples of his genius, for instance a quite small panel of a Sleeping Cyclops, whose gigantic stature he aimed at representing even on that scale by painting at his side some Satyrs measuring the size of his thumb with a wand. Indeed Timanthes is the only artist in whose works more is always implied than is depicted, and whose execution, though consummate, is always surpassed by his genius. He painted a hero which is a work of supreme perfection, in which he has included the whole art of painting male figures; this work is now in the Temple of Peace in Rome.

[75] It was at this period that Euxinidas had as his pupil the famous artist Aristides, that Eupompus taught Pamphilus who was the instructor of Apelles. A work of Eupompus is a Winner in a Gymnastic Contest holding a Palm branch. Eupompus's own influence was so powerful that he made a fresh division of painting; it had previously been divided into two schools, called the Helladic or Greek and the Asiatic, but because of Eupompus, who was a Sicyonian, the Greek school was subdivided into three groups, the Ionic, Sicyonian and Attic. [76] To Pamphilus belong Family Group, and a Battle at Phlius and a Victory of the Athenians, and also Odysseus on his Raft. He was himself a Macedonian by birth, but [was brought up at Sicyon, and] was the first painter highly educated in all branches of learning, especially arithmetic and geometry, without the aid of which he maintained art could not attain perfection. He took no pupils at a lower fee than a talent, at the rate of 500 drachmas per year, and this was paid him by both Apelles and Melanthius. [77] It was brought about by his influence, first at Sicyon and then in the whole of Greece as well, that children of free birth were given lessons in drawing on boxwood, which had not been included hitherto, and that this art was accepted into the front rank of the liberal sciences. And it has always consistently had the honour of being practised by people of free birth, and later on by persons of station, it having always been forbidden that slaves should be instructed in it. Hence it is that neither in painting nor in the art of statuary a are there any famous works that were executed by any person who was a slave.

[78] In the 107th Olympiad {352-349 BC} Aetion and Therimachus also attained outstanding distinction. Famous paintings by Aetion are a Father Liber or Dionysus, Tragedy and Comedy and Semiramis the Slave Girl Rising to a Throne; and the Old Woman carrying Torches, with a Newly Married Bride, remarkable for her air of modesty.

[79] But it was Apelles of Cos who surpassed all the painters that preceded and all who were to come after him; he dates in the 112th Olympiad {332-329 BC}. He is singly contributed almost more to painting than all the other artists put together, also publishing volumes containing the principles of painting. His art was unrivalled for graceful charm, although other very great painters were his contemporaries. Although he admired their works and gave high praise to all of them, he used to say that they lacked the glamour that his work possessed, the quality denoted by the Greek word charis, and that although they had every other merit, in that alone no one was his rival. [80] He also asserted another claim to distinction when he expressed his admiration for the immensely laborious and infinitely meticulous work of Protogenes; for he said that in all respects his achievements and those of Protogenes were on a level, or those of Protogenes were superior, but that in one respect he stood higher, that he knew when to take his hand away from a picture - a noteworthy warning of the frequently evil effects of excessive diligence. The candour of Apelles was however equal to his artistic skill: he used to acknowledge his inferiority to Melanthius in grouping, and to Asclepiodorus in nicety of measurement, that is in the proper space to be left between one object and another.

[81] A clever incident took place between Protogenes and Apelles. Protogenes lived at Rhodes, and Apelles made the voyage there from a desire to make himself acquainted with Protogenes's works, as that artist was hitherto only known to him by reputation. He went at once to his studio. The artist was not there but there was a panel of considerable size on the easel prepared for painting, which was in the charge of a single old woman. In answer to his enquiry, she told him that Protogenes was not at home, and asked who it was she should report as having wished to see him. 'Say it was this person,' said Apelles, and taking up a brush he painted in colour across the panel an extremely fine line; [82] and when Protogenes returned the old woman showed him what had taken place. The story goes that the artist, after looking closely at the finish of this, said that the new arrival was Apelles, as so perfect a piece of work tallied with nobody else; and he himself, using another colour, drew a still finer line exactly on the top of the first one, and leaving the room told the attendant to show it to the visitor if he returned and add that this was the person he was in search of; and so it happened; for Apelles came back, and, ashamed to be beaten, cut a the lines with another in a third colour, leaving no room for any further display of minute work. [83] Hereupon Protogenes admitted he was defeated, and flew down to the harbour to look for the visitor; and he decided that the panel should be handed on to posterity as it was, to be admired as a marvel by everybody, but particularly by artists. I am informed that it was burnt in the first fire which occurred in Caesar's palace on the Palatine {4 AD}; it had been previously much admired by us, on its vast surface containing nothing else than the almost invisible lines, so that among the outstanding works of many artists it looked like a blank space, and by that very fact attracted attention and was more esteemed than every masterpiece there.

[84] Moreover it was a regular custom with Apelles never to let a day of business to be so fully occupied that he did not practise his art by drawing a line, which has passed from him into a proverb. Another habit of his was when he had finished his works to place them in a gallery in the view of passers by, and he himself stood out of sight behind the picture and listened to hear what faults were noticed, rating the public as a more observant critic than himself. [85] And it is said that he was found fault with by a shoemaker because in drawing a subject's sandals he had represented the loops in them as one too few, and the next day the same critic was so proud of the artist's correcting the fault indicated by his previous objection that he found fault with the leg, but Apelles indignantly looked out from behind the picture and rebuked him, saying that a shoemaker in his criticism must not go beyond the sandal - a remark that has also passed into a proverb. In fact he also possessed great courtesy of manners, which made him more agreeable to Alexander the Great, who frequently visited his studio - for, as we have said, Alexander had published an edict forbidding any other artist to paint his portrait; but in the studio Alexander used to talk a great deal about painting without any real knowledge of it, and Apelles would politely advise him to drop the subject, saying that the boys engaged in grinding the colours were laughing at him: [86] so much power did his authority exercise over a King who was otherwise of an irascible temper. And yet Alexander conferred honour on him in a most conspicuous instance; he had such an admiration for the beauty of his favourite mistress, named Pancaspe, that he gave orders that she should be painted in the nude by Apelles, and then discovering that the artist while executing the commission had fallen in hive with the woman, he presented her to him, great minded as he was and still greater owing to his control of himself, and of a greatness proved by this action as much as by any other victory: [87] because he conquered himself, and presented not only his bedmate but his affection also to the artist, and was not even influenced by regard for the feelings of his favourite in having been recently the mistress of a monarch and now belonged to a painter. Some persons believe that she was the model from which the Aphrodite Anadyomene {Rising from the Sea} was painted. It was Apelles also who, kindly among his rivals, first established the reputation of Protogenes at Rhodes. [88] Protogenes was held in low esteem by his fellow-countrymen, as is usual with home products, and, when Apelles asked him what price he set on some works he had finished, he had mentioned some small sum, but Apelles made him an offer of fifty talents for them, and spread it about that he was buying them with the intention of selling them as works of his own. This device aroused the people of Rhodes to appreciate the artist, and Apelles only parted with the pictures to them at an enhanced price.

He also painted portraits so absolutely lifelike that, incredible as it sounds, the grammarian Apion has left it on record that one of those persons called 'physiognomists,' who prophesy people's future by their countenance, pronounced from their portraits either the year of the subjects' deaths hereafter or the number of years they had already lived. [89] Apelles had been on bad terms with Ptolemy in Alexander's retinue. When this Ptolemy was King of Egypt, Apelles on a voyage had been driven by a violent storm into Alexandria. His rivals maliciously suborned the King's jester to convey to him an invitation to dinner, to which he came. Ptolemy was very indignant, and paraded his hospitality-stewards for Apelles to say which of them had given him the invitation. Apelles picked up a piece of extinguished charcoal from the hearth and drew a likeness on the wall, the King recognizing the features of the jester as soon as he began the sketch. [90] He also painted a portrait of King Antigonus who was blind in one eye, and devised an original method of concealing the defect, for he did the likeness in 'three-quarter,' so that the feature that was lacking in the subject might be thought instead to be absent in the picture, and he only showed the part of the face which he was able to display as unmutilated. Among his works there are also pictures of persons at the point of death. But it is not easy to say which of his productions are of the highest rank. [91] His Aphrodite emerging from the Sea was dedicated by the deified Augustus in the shrine of his father Caesar; it is known as the Anadyomene; this like other works is eclipsed yet made famous by the Greek verses which sing its praises; the lower part of the picture having become damaged nobody could be found to restore it, but the actual injury contributed to the glory of the artist. This picture however suffered from age and rot, and Nero when emperor substituted another for it, a work by Dorotheus. [92] Apelles had also begun on another Aphrodite at Cos, which was to surpass even his famous earlier one; but death grudged him the work when only partly finished, nor could anybody be found to carry on the task, in conformity with the outlines of the sketches prepared. He also painted Alexander the Great holding a Thunderbolt, in the temple of Artemis at Ephesus, for a fee of twenty talents in gold. The fingers have the appearance of projecting from the surface and the thunderbolt seems to stand out from the picture - readers must remember that all these effects were produced by four colours; the artist received the price of this picture in gold coin measured by weighty not counted. [93] He also painted a Procession of the Megabyzus, the priest of Artemis of Ephesus, a Clitus with Horse hastening into battle; and an armour-bearer handing someone a helmet at his command. How many times he painted Alexander and Philip it would be superfluous to recount. His Habron at Samos is much admired, as is his Menander, king of Caria, at Rhodes, likewise his Antaeus, and at Alexandria his Gorgosthenes the Tragic Actor, and at Rome his Castor and Pollux with Victory and Alexander the Great, and also his figure of War with the Hands Tied behind, with Alexander riding in Triumph in his Chariot. [94] Both of these pictures the deified Augustus with restrained good taste had dedicated in the most frequented parts of his forum; the emperor Claudius however thought it more advisable to cut out the face of Alexander from both works and substitute portraits of Augustus. The Heracles with Face Averted in the temple of Diana is also believed to be by his hand - so drawn that the picture more truly displays Heracles' face than merely suggests it to the imagination - a very difficult achievement. He also painted a Nude Hero, a picture with which he challenged Nature herself. [95] There is, or was, a picture of a Horse by him, painted in a competition, by which he carried his appeal for judgement from mankind to the dumb quadrupeds; for perceiving that his rivals were getting the better of him by intrigue, he had some horses brought and showed them their pictures one by one; and the horses only began to neigh when they saw the horse painted by Apelles; and this always happened subsequently, showing it to be a sound test of artistic skill. [96] He also did a Neoptolemus on Horseback fighting against the Persians, an Archelaus with his Wife and Daughter, and an Antigonus with a Breastplate marching with his horse at his side. Connoisseurs put at the head of all his works the portrait of the same king seated on horseback, and his Artemis in the midst of a band of Maidens offering a Sacrifice, a work by which he may be thought to have surpassed Homer's verses describing the same subject { Od. 6.102 ff. }. He even painted things that cannot be represented in pictures - thunder, lightning and thunderbolts, the pictures known respectively under the Greek titles of Bronte, Astrape and Ceraunobolia.

[97] His inventions in the art of painting have been useful to all other painters as well, but there was one which nobody was able to imitate: when his works were finished he used to cover them over with a black varnish of such thinness that its very presence, while its reflexion threw up the brilliance of all the colours and preserved them from dust and dirt, was only visible to anyone who looked at it close up, but also employing great calculation of lights, so that the brilliance of the colours should not offend the sight when people looked at them as if through muscovy-glass and so that the same device from a distance might invisibly give sombreness to colours that were too brilliant.

[98] Contemporary with Apelles was Aristides of Thebes. He was the first of all painters who depicted the mind and expressed the feelings of a human being, what the Greeks term ēthē, and also the emotions; he was a little too hard in his colours. His works include on the capture of a town, showing an infant creeping to the breast of its mother who is dying of a wound; it is felt that the mother is aware of the child and is afraid that as her milk is exhausted by death it may suck blood; this picture had been removed by Alexander the Great to his native place, Pella. [99] The same artist painted a Battle with the Persians, a panel that contains a hundred human figures, which he parted with to Mnason the tyrant of Elatea on the terms of ten minas per man. He also painted a Four-horse Chariots Racing, a Suppliant, who almost appeared speak, Huntsmen with Quarry, Leontion Epicurus's mistress, and Woman At Rest through Love of her Brother; and likewise the Dionysus and the Ariadne once on view in the temple of Ceres at Rome, and the Tragic Actor and Boy in the Temple of Apollo, [100] a picture of which the beauty has perished owing to the lack of skill of a painter commissioned by Marcus Junius as praetor to clean it in readiness for the festival of the Ludi Apollinares. There has also been on view in the temple of Faith in the Capitol his picture of an Old Man with a Lyre giving lessons to a Boy. He also painted a Sick Man which has received unlimited praise; and he was so able an artist that King Attalus is said to have bought a single picture of his for a hundred talents.

Following sections (101-202)



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