A History Of Greek Art by F. B. TarbellWith an Introductory Chapter on Art in Egypt and Mesopotamia

Produced by Robert Rowe, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team. A History of Greek Art With an Introductory Chapter on Art in Egypt and Mesopotamia BY F. B. TARBELL PROFESSOR OF CLASSICAL ARCHAEOLOGY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PREFACE. The art of any artistically gifted people may be studied with various purposes and
This page contains affiliate links. As Amazon Associates we earn from qualifying purchases.
  • 1896
Buy it on Amazon FREE Audible 30 days

Produced by Robert Rowe, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.

A History of Greek Art

With an Introductory Chapter on Art in Egypt and Mesopotamia




The art of any artistically gifted people may be studied with various purposes and in various ways. One man, being himself an artist, may seek inspiration or guidance for his own practice; another, being a student of the history of civilization, may strive to comprehend the products of art as one manifestation of a people’s spiritual life; another may be interested chiefly in tracing the development of artistic processes, forms, and subjects; and so on. But this book has been written in the conviction that the greatest of all motives for studying art, the motive which is and ought to be strongest in most people, is the desire to become acquainted with beautiful and noble things, the things that “soothe the cares and lift the thoughts of man.” The historical method of treatment has been adopted as a matter of course, but the emphasis is not laid upon the historical aspects of the subject. The chief aim has been to present characteristic specimens of the finest Greek work that has been preserved to us, and to suggest how they may be intelligently enjoyed. Fortunate they who can carry their studies farther, with the help of less elementary handbooks, of photographs, of casts, or, best of all, of the original monuments.

Most of the illustrations in this book have been made from photographs, of which all but a few belong to the collection of Greek photographs owned by the University of Chicago. A number of other illustrations have been derived from books or serial publications, as may be seen from the accompanying legends. In several cases where cuts were actually taken from secondary sources, such as Baumeister’s “Denkmaler des klassischen Altertums,” they have been credited to their original sources. A few architectural drawings were made expressly for this work, being adapted from trustworthy authorities, viz.: Figs. 6, 51, 61, and 64. There remain two or three additional illustrations, which have so long formed a part of the ordinary stock-in trade of handbooks that it seemed unnecessary to assign their origin.

The introductory chapter has been kindly looked over by Dr. J. H. Breasted, who has relieved it of a number of errors, without in any way making himself responsible for it. The remaining chapters have unfortunately not had the benefit of any such revision.

In the present reissue of this book a number of slight changes and corrections have been introduced.

Chicago, January, 1905.






The history of Egypt, from the time of the earliest extant monuments to the absorption of the country in the Roman Empire, covers a space of some thousands of years. This long period was not one of stagnation. It is only in proportion to our ignorance that life in ancient Egypt seems to have been on one dull, dead level. Dynasties rose and fell. Foreign invaders occupied the land and were expelled again. Customs, costumes, beliefs, institutions, underwent changes. Of course, then, art did not remain stationary. On the contrary, it had marked vicissitudes, now displaying great freshness and vigor, now uninspired and monotonous, now seemingly dead, and now reviving to new activity. In Babylonia we deal with perhaps even remoter periods of time, but the artistic remains at present known from that quarter are comparatively scanty. From Assyria, however, the daughter of Babylonia, materials abound, and the history of that country can be written in detail for a period of several centuries. Naturally, then, even a mere sketch of Egyptian, Babylonian, and Assyrian art would require much more space than is here at disposal. All that can be attempted is to present a few examples and suggest a few general notions. The main purpose will be to make clearer by comparison and contrast the essential qualities of Greek art, to which this volume is devoted.

I begin with Egypt, and offer at the outset a table of the most important periods of Egyptian history. The dates are taken from the sketch prefixed to the catalogue of Egyptian antiquities in the Berlin Museum. In using them the reader must bear in mind that the earlier Egyptian chronology is highly uncertain. Thus the date here suggested for the Old Empire, while it cannot be too early, may be a thousand years too late. As we come down, the margin of possible error grows less and less. The figures assigned to the New Empire are regarded as trustworthy within a century or two. But only when we reach the Saite dynasty do we get a really precise chronology.

Chief Periods of Egyptian History:

OLD EMPIRE, with capital at Memphis; Dynasties 4-5 (2800-2500 B. C. or earlier) and Dynasty 6.

MIDDLE EMPIRE, with capital at Thebes; Dynasties 11-13 (2200-1800 B. C. or earlier).

NEW EMPIRE, with capital at Thebes; Dynasties 17-20 (ca. 1600-1100 B. C.).

SAITE PERIOD; Dynasty 26 (663-525 B. C.).

One of the earliest Egyptian sculptures now existing, though certainly not earlier than the Fourth Dynasty, is the great Sphinx of Gizeh (Fig. 1). The creature crouches in the desert, a few miles to the north of the ancient Memphis, just across the Nile from the modern city of Cairo. With the body of a lion and the head of a man, it represented a solar deity and was an object of worship. It is hewn from the living rock and is of colossal size, the height from the base to the top of the head being about 70 feet and the length of the body about 150 feet. The paws and breast were originally covered with a limestone facing. The present dilapidated condition of the monument is due partly to the tooth of time, but still more to wanton mutilation at the hands of fanatical Mohammedans. The body is now almost shapeless. The nose, the beard, and the lower part of the head dress are gone. The face is seamed with scars. Yet the strange monster still preserves a mysterious dignity, as though it were guardian of all the secrets of ancient Egypt, but disdained to betray them

“The art which conceived and carved this prodigious statue,” says Professor Maspero [Footnote: Manual of Egyptian Archaeology second edition 1895 page 208] “was a finished art, an art which had attained self mastery, and was sure of its effects. How many centuries had it taken to arrive at this degree of maturity and perfection?” It is impossible to guess. The long process of self- schooling in artistic methods which must have preceded this work is hidden from us. We cannot trace the progress of Egyptian art from its timid, awkward beginnings to the days of its conscious power, as we shall find ourselves able to do in the case of Greek art. The evidence is annihilated, or is hidden beneath the sand of the desert, perhaps to be one day revealed. Should that day come, a new first chapter in the history of Egyptian art will have to be written.

There are several groups of pyramids, large and small at Gizeh and elsewhere, almost all of which belong to the Old Empire. The three great pyramids of Gizeh are among the earliest. They were built by three kings of the Fourth Dynisty, Cheops (Chufu), Chephren (Chafre), and Mycerinus (Menkere) They are gigantic sepulchral monuments in which the mummies of the kings who built them were deposited. The pyramid of Cheops (Fig. 1, at the right), the largest of all, was originally 481 feet 4 inches in height, and was thus doubtless the loftiest structure ever reared in pre- Christian times. The side of the square base measured 755 feet 8 inches. The pyramidal mass consists in the main of blocks of limestone, and the exterior was originally cased with fine limestone, so that the surfaces were perfectly smooth. At present the casing is gone, and instead of a sharp point at the top there is a platform about thirty feet square. In the heart of the mass was the granite chamber where the king’s mummy was laid. It was reached by an ingenious system of passages, strongly barricaded. Yet all these precautions were ineffectual to save King Cheops from the hand of the spoiler. Chephren’s pyramid (Fig. 1, at the left) is not much smaller than that of Cheops, its present height being about 450 feet, while the height of the third of this group, that of Mycerinus, is about 210 feet. No wonder that the pyramids came to be reckoned among the seven wonders of the world.

While kings erected pyramids to serve as their tombs, officials of high rank were buried in, or rather under, structures of a different type, now commonly known under the Arabic name of mastabas. The mastaba may be described as a block of masonry of limestone or sun-dried brick, oblong in plan, with the sides built “battering,” i.e., sloping inward, and with a flat top. It had no architectural merits to speak of, and therefore need not detain us. It is worth remarking, however, that some of these mastabas contain genuine arches, formed of unbaked bricks. The knowledge and use of the arch in Egypt go back then to at least the period of the Old Empire. But the chief interest of the mastabas lies in the fact that they have preserved to us most of what we possess of early Egyptian sculpture. For in a small, inaccessible chamber (serdab) reserved in the mass of masonry were placed one or more portrait statues of the owner, and often of his wife and other members of his household, while the walls of another and larger chamber, which served as a chapel for the celebration of funeral rites, were often covered with painted bas- reliefs, representing scenes from the owner’s life or whatever in the way of funeral offering and human activity could minister to his happiness.

One of the best of the portrait statues of this period is the famous “Sheikh-el-Beled” (Chief of the Village), attributed to the Fourth or Fifth Dynasty (Fig. 2). The name was given by the Arab workmen, who, when the figure was first brought to light in the cemetery of Sakkarah, thought they saw in it the likeness of their own sheikh. The man’s real name, if he was the owner of the mastaba from whose serdab he was taken, was Ra-em-ka. The figure is less than life-sized, being a little over three and one half feet in height. It is of wood, a common material for sculpture in Egypt. The arms were made separately (the left of two pieces) and attached at the shoulders. The feet, which had decayed, have been restored. Originally the figure was covered with a coating of linen, and this with stucco, painted. “The eyeballs are of opaque white quartz, set in a bronze sheath, which forms the eyelids; in the center of each there is a bit of rock-crystal, and behind this a shining nail” [Footnote: Musee de Gizeh: Notice Sommaire (1892).]–a contrivance which produces a marvelously realistic effect. The same thing, or something like it, is to be seen in other statues of the period. The attitude of Ra-em-ka is the usual one of Egyptian standing figures of all periods: the left leg is advanced; both feet are planted flat on the ground; body and head face squarely forward. The only deviation from the most usual type is in the left arm, which is bent at the elbow, that the hand may grasp the staff of office. More often the arms both hang at the sides, the hands clenched, as in the admirable limestone figure of the priest, Ra-nofer (Fig. 3).

The cross-legged scribe of the Louvre (Fig. 4) illustrates another and less stereotyped attitude. This figure was found in the tomb of one Sekhem-ka, along with two statues of the owner and a group of the owner, his wife, and son. The scribe was presumably in the employ of Sekhem-ka. The figure is of limestone, the commonest material for these sepulchral statues, and, according to the unvarying practice, was completely covered with color, still in good preservation. The flesh is of a reddish brown, the regular color for men. The eyes are similar to those of the Sheikh-el- Beled. The man is seated with his legs crossed under him; a strip of papyrus, held by his left hand, rests upon his lap; his right hand held a pen.

The head shown in Fig. 5 belongs to a group, if we may give that name to two figures carved from separate blocks of limestone and seated stiffly side by side. Egyptian sculpture in the round never created a genuine, integral group, in which two or more figures are so combined that no one is intelligible without the rest; that achievement was reserved for the Greeks. The lady in this case was a princess; her husband, by whom she sits, a high priest of Heliopolis. She is dressed in a long, white smock, in which there is no indication of folds. On her head is a wig, from under which, in front, her own hair shows. Her flesh is yellow, the conventional tint for women, as brownish red was for men. Her eyes are made of glass.

The specimens given have been selected with the purpose of showing the sculpture of the Old Empire at its best. The all-important fact to notice is the realism of these portraits. We shall see that Greek sculpture throughout its great period tends toward the typical and the ideal in the human face and figure. Not so in Egypt. Here the task of the artist was to make a counterfeit presentment of his subject and he has achieved his task at times with marvelous skill. Especially the heads of the best statues have an individuality and lifelikeness which have hardly been surpassed in any age. But let not our admiration blind us to the limitations of Egyptian art. The sculptor never attains to freedom in the posing of his figures. Whether the subject sits, stands, kneels, or squats, the body and head always face directly forward. And we look in vain for any appreciation on the sculptor’s part of the beauty of the athletic body or of the artistic possibilities of drapery.

There is more variety of pose in the painted bas-reliefs with which the walls of the mastaba chapels are covered. Here are scenes of agriculture, cattle-tending, fishing, bread-making, and so on, represented with admirable vivacity, though with certain fixed conventionalities of style. There are endless entertainment and instruction for us in these pictures of old Egyptian life. Yet no more here than in the portrait statues do we find a feeling for beauty of form or a poetic, idealizing touch.

As from the Old Empire, so from the Middle Empire, almost the only works of man surviving to us are tombs and their contents. These tombs have no longer the simple mastaba form, but are either built up of sun-dried brick in the form of a block capped by a pyramid or are excavated in the rock. The former class offers little interest from the architectural point of view. But some of the rock-cut tombs of Beni-hasan, belonging to the Twelfth Dynasty, exhibit a feature which calls for mention. These tombs have been so made as to leave pillars of the living rock standing, both at the entrance and in the chapel. The simplest of these pillars are square in plan and somewhat tapering. Others, by the chamfering off of their edges, have been made eight-sided. A repetition of the process gave sixteen-sided pillars. The sixteen sides were then hollowed out (channeled). The result is illustrated by Fig. 6. It will be observed that the pillar has a low, round base, with beveled edge; also, at the top, a square abacus, which is simply a piece of the original four-sided pillar, left untouched. Such polygonal pillars as these are commonly called proto-Doric columns. The name was given in the belief that these were the models from which the Greeks derived their Doric columns, and this belief is still held by many authorities.

With the New Empire we begin to have numerous and extensive remains of temples, while those of an earlier date have mostly disappeared. Fig. 7 may afford some notion of what an Egyptian temple was like. This one is at Luxor, on the site of ancient Thebes in Upper Egypt. It is one of the largest of all, being over 800 feet in length. Like many others, it was not originally planned on its present scale, but represents two or three successive periods of construction, Ramses II., of the Nineteenth Dynasty, having given it its final form by adding to an already finished building all that now stands before the second pair of towers. As so extended, the building has three pylons, as they are called, pylon being the name for the pair of sloping-sided towers with gateway between. Behind the first pylon comes an open court surrounded by a cloister with double rows of columns. The second and third pylons are connected with one another by a covered passage–an exceptional feature. Then comes a second open court; then a hypostyle hall, i.e., a hall with flat roof supported by columns; and finally, embedded in the midst of various chambers, the relatively small sanctuary, inaccessible to all save the king and the priests. Notice the double line of sphinxes flanking the avenue of approach, the two granite obelisks at the entrance, and the four colossal seated figures in granite representing Ramses II.–all characteristic features.

Fig. 8 is taken from a neighboring and still more gigantic temple, that of Karnak. Imagine an immense hall, 170 feet deep by 329 feet broad. Down the middle run two rows of six columns each (the nearest ones in the picture have been restored), nearly seventy feet high. They have campaniform (bell-shaped) capitals. On either side are seven rows of shorter columns, somewhat more than forty feet high. These, as may be indistinctly seen at the right of our picture, have capitals of a different type, called, from their origin rather than from their actual appearance, lotiform or lotus-bud capitals. There was a clerestory over the four central rows of columns, with windows in its walls. The general plan, therefore, of this hypostyle hall has some resemblance to that of a Christian basilica, but the columns are much more numerous and closely set. Walls and columns were covered with hieroglyphic texts and sculptured and painted scenes. The total effect of this colossal piece of architecture, even in its ruin, is one of overwhelming majesty. No other work of human hands strikes the beholder with such a sense of awe.

Fig. 9 is a restoration of one of the central columns of this hall. Except for one fault, say Messrs. Perrot and Chipiez,[Footnote: “Histoire de l’Art Egypte,” page 576. The translation given above differs from that in the English edition of Perrot and Chipiez, “Art in Ancient Egypt,” Vol. II., page 123.] “this column would be one of the most admirable creations of art; it would hardly be inferior to the most perfect columns of Greece.” The one fault–a grave one to a critical eye–is the meaningless and inappropriate block inserted between the capital and the horizontal beam which it is the function of the column to support. The type of column used in the side aisles of the hall at Karnak is illustrated by Fig. 10, taken from another temple. It is much less admirable, the contraction of the capital toward the top producing an unpleasant effect.

Other specimens of these two types of column vary widely from those of Karnak, for Egyptian architects did not feel obliged, like Greek architects, to conform, with but slight liberty of deviation, to established canons of form and proportion. Nor are these two by any means the only forms of support used in the temple architecture of the New Empire. The “proto-Doric” column continued in favor under the New Empire, though apparently not later; we find it, for example, in some of the outlying buildings at Karnak. Then there was the column whose capital was adorned with four heads in relief of the goddess Hathor, not to speak of other varieties. Whatever the precise form of the support, it was always used to carry a horizontal beam. Although the Egyptians were familiar from very early times with the principle of the arch, and although examples of its use occur often enough under the New Empire, we do not find columns or piers used, as in Gothic architecture, to carry a vaulting. In fact, the genuine vault is absent from Egyptian temple architecture, although in the Temple of Abydos false or corbelled vaults (cf. page 49) do occur.

Egyptian architects were not gifted with a fine feeling for structural propriety or unity. A few of their small temples are simple and coherent in plan and fairly tasteful in details. But it is significant that a temple could always be enlarged by the addition of parts not contemplated in the original design. The result in such a case was a vast, rambling edifice, whose merits consisted in the imposing character of individual parts, rather than in an organic and symmetrical relation of parts to whole.

Statues of the New Empire are far more numerous than those of any other period, but few of them will compare in excellence with the best of those of the Old Empire. Colossal figures of kings abound, chiseled with infinite patience from granite and other obdurate rocks. All these and others may be passed over in order to make room for a statue in the Louvre (Fig. 11), which is chosen, not because of its artistic merits, but because of its material and its subject. It is of bronze, somewhat over three feet in height, thus being the largest Egyptian bronze statue known. It was cast in a single piece, except for the arms, which were cast separately and attached. The date of it is in dispute, one authority assigning it to the Eighteenth Dynasty and another bringing it down as late as the seventh century B.C. Be that as it may, the art of casting hollow bronze figures is of high antiquity in Egypt. The figure represents a hawk-headed god, Horus, who once held up some object, probably a vase for libations. Egyptian divinities are often represented with the heads of animals– Anubis with the head of a jackal, Hathor with that of a cow, Sebek with that of a crocodile, and so on. This in itself shows a lack of nobility in the popular theology. Moreover it is clear that the best talents of sculptors were engaged upon portraits of kings and queens and other human beings, not upon figures of the gods. The latter exist by the thousand, to be sure, but they are generally small statuettes, a few inches high, in bronze, wood, or faience. And even if sculptors had been encouraged to do their best in bodying forth the forms of gods, they would hardly have achieved high success. The exalted imagination was lacking.

Among the innumerable painted bas-reliefs covering the walls of tombs and temples, those of the great Temple of Abydos in Upper Egypt hold a high place. One enthusiastic art critic has gone so far as to pronounce them “the most perfect, the most noble bas- reliefs ever chiseled.” A specimen of this work, now, alas! more defaced than is here shown, is given in Fig. 12. King Seti I. of the Nineteenth Dynasty stands in an attitude of homage before a seated divinity, of whom almost nothing appears in the illustration. On the palm of his right hand he holds a figure of Maat, goddess of truth. In front of him is a libation-standard, on which rests a bunch of lotus flowers, buds, and leaves. The first remark to be made about this work is that it is genuine relief. The forms are everywhere modeled, whereas in much of what is commonly called bas-relief in Egypt, the figures are only outlined and the spaces within the outlines are left flat. As regards the treatment of the human figure, we have here the stereotyped Egyptian conventions. The head, except the eye, is in profile, the shoulders in front view, the abdomen in three-quarters view, the legs again in profile. As a result of the distortion of the body, the arms are badly attached at the shoulders. Furthermore the hands, besides being very badly drawn, have in this instance the appearance of being mismated with the arms, while both feet look like right feet. The dress consists of the usual loin-cloth and of a thin, transparent over-garment, indicated only by a line in front and below. Now surely no one will maintain that these methods and others of like sort which there is no opportunity here to illustrate are the most artistic ever devised. Nevertheless serious technical faults and shortcomings may coexist with great merits of composition and expression. So it is in this relief of Seti. The design is stamped with unusual refinement and grace. The theme is hackneyed enough, but its treatment here raises it above the level of commonplace.

Egyptian bas-reliefs were always completely covered with paint, laid on in uniform tints. Paintings on a flat surface differ in no essential respect from these painted bas-reliefs. The conventional and untruthful methods of representing the human form, as well as other objects–buildings, landscapes, etc.–are the same in the former as in the latter. The coloring, too, is of the same sort, there being no attempt to render gradations of color due to the play of light and shade. Fig. 13, a lute-player from a royal tomb of the Eighteenth Dynasty, illustrates some of these points. The reader who would form an idea of the composition of extensive scenes must consult works more especially devoted to Egyptian art. He will be rewarded with many a vivid picture of ancient Egyptian life.

Art was at a low ebb in Egypt during the centuries of Libyan and Ethiopian domination which succeeded the New Empire. There was a revival under the Saite monarchy in the seventh and sixth centuries B.C. To this period is assigned a superb head of dark green stone (Fig. 14), recently acquired by the Berlin Museum. It has been broken from a standing or kneeling statue. The form of the closely-shaven skull and the features of the strong face, wrinkled by age, have been reproduced by the sculptor with unsurpassable fidelity. The number of works emanating from the same school as this is very small, but in quality they represent the highest development of Egyptian sculpture. It is fit that we should take our leave of Egyptian art with such a work as this before us, a work which gives us the quintessence of the artistic genius of the race.

Babylonia was the seat of a civilization perhaps more hoary than that of Egypt. The known remains of Babylonian art, however, are at present far fewer than those of Egypt and will probably always be so. There being practically no stone in the country and wood being very scarce, buildings were constructed entirely of bricks, some of them merely sun-dried, others kiln-baked. The natural wells of bitumen supplied a tenacious mortar. [Footnote: Compare Genesis XI 3: “And they had brick for stone and slime had they for mortar.”] The ruins that have been explored at Tello, Nippur, and elsewhere, belong to city walls, houses, and temples. The most peculiar and conspicuous feature of the temple was a lofty rectangular tower of several stages, each stage smaller than the one below it. The arch was known and used in Babylonia from time immemorial. As for the ornamental details of buildings, we know very little about them except that large use was made of enameled bricks.

The only early Babylonian sculptures of any consequence that we possess are a collection of broken reliefs and a dozen sculptures in the round, found in a group of mounds called Tello and now in the Louvre. The reliefs are extremely rude. The statues are much better and are therefore probably of later date, they are commonly assigned by students of Babylonian antiquities to about 3000 B.C. Fig. 15 reproduces one of them. The material, as of the other statues found at the same place, is a dark and excessively hard igneous rock (dolerite). The person represented is one Gudea, the ruler of a small semi-independent principality. On his lap he has a tablet on which is engraved the plan of a fortress, very interesting to the student of military antiquities. The forms of the body are surprisingly well given, even the knuckles of the fingers being indicated. As regards the drapery, it is noteworthy that an attempt has been made to render folds on the right breast and the left arm. The skirt of the dress is covered with an inscription in cuneiform characters.

Fig. 16 belongs to the same group of sculptures as the seated figure just discussed. Although this head gives no such impression of lifelikeness as the best Egyptian portraits, it yet shows careful study. Cheeks, chin, and mouth are well rendered. The eyelids, though too wide open, are still good; notice the inner corners. The eyebrows are less successful. Their general form is that of the half of a figure 8 bisected vertically, and the hairs are indicated by slanting lines arranged in herring-bone fashion. Altogether, the reader will probably feel more respect than enthusiasm for this early Babylonian art and will have no keen regret that the specimens of it are so few.

The Assyrians were by origin one people with the Chaldeans and were therefore a branch of the great Semitic family. It is not until the ninth century B.C. that the great period of Assyrian history begins. Then for two and a half centuries Assyria was the great conquering power of the world. Near the end of the seventh century it was completely annihilated by a coalition of Babylonia and Media.

With an insignificant exception or two the remains of Assyrian buildings and sculptures all belong to the period of Assyrian greatness. The principal sites where explorations have been carried on are Koyunjik (Nineveh), Nimroud, and Khorsabad, and the ruins uncovered are chiefly those of royal palaces. These buildings were of enormous extent. The palace of Sennacherib at Nineveh, for example, covered more than twenty acres. Although the country possessed building stone in plenty, stone was not used except for superficial ornamentation, baked and unbaked bricks being the architect’s sole reliance. This was a mere blind following of the example of Babylonia, from which Assyria derived all its culture. The palaces were probably only one story in height. Their principal splendor was in their interior decoration of painted stucco, enameled bricks, and, above all, painted reliefs in limestone or alabaster.

The great Assyrian bas-reliefs covered the lower portions of the walls of important rooms. Designed to enrich the royal palaces, they drew their principal themes from the occupations of the kings. We see the monarch offering sacrifice before a divinity, or, more often, engaged in his favorite pursuits of war and hunting. These extensive compositions cannot be adequately illustrated by two or three small pictures. The most that can be done is to show the sculptor’s method of treating single figures. Fig. 17 is a slab from the earliest series we possess, that belonging to the palace of Asshur-nazir-pal (884-860 B.C.) at Nimroud. It represents the king facing to right, with a bowl for libation in his right hand and his bow in his left, while a eunuch stands fronting him. The artistic style exhibited here remains with no essential change throughout the whole history of Assyrian art. The figures are in profile, except that the king’s further shoulder is thrown forward in much the fashion which we have found the rule in Egypt, and the eyes appear as in front view. Both king and attendant are enveloped in long robes, in which there is no indication of folds, though fringes and tassels are elaborately rendered. The faces are of a strongly marked Semitic cast, but without any attempt at portraiture. The hair of the head ends in several rows of snail-shell curls, and the king’s beard has rows of these curls alternating with more natural-looking portions. Little is displayed of the body except the fore-arms, whose anatomy, though intelligible, is coarse and false. As for minor matters, such as the too high position of the ears, and the unnatural shape of the king’s right hand, it is needless to dwell upon them. A cuneiform inscription runs right across the relief, interrupted only by the fringes of the robes.

Fig. 18 shows more distinctly the characteristic Assyrian method of representing the human head. Here are the same Semitic features, the eye in front view, and the strangely curled hair and beard. The only novelty is the incised line which marks the iris of the eye. This peculiarity is first observed in work of Sargon’s time (722-705 B. C.).

A constant and striking feature of the Assyrian palaces was afforded by the great, winged, human-headed bulls, which flanked the principal doorways. The one herewith given (Fig. 19) is from Sargon’s palace at Khorsabad. The peculiar methods of Assyrian sculpture are not ill suited to this fantastic creature, an embodiment of force and intelligence. One special peculiarity will not escape the attentive observer. Like all his kind, except in Sennacherib’s palace, this bull has five legs. He was designed to be looked at from directly in front or from the side, not from an intermediate point of view.

Assyrian art was not wholly without capacity for improvement. Under Asshur-bam-pal (668-626), the Sardanapalus of the Greeks, it reached a distinctly higher level than ever before. It is from his palace at Nineveh that the slab partially shown in Fig. 20 was obtained. Two demons, with human bodies, arms, and legs, but with lions’ heads, asses’ ears, and eagles’ talons, confront one another angrily, brandishing daggers in their right hands. Mesopotamian art was fond of such creatures, but we do not know precisely what meaning was attached to the present scene. We need therefore consider only stylistic qualities. As the two demons wear only short skirts reaching from the waist to the knees, their bodies are more exposed than those of men usually are. We note the inaccurate anatomy of breast, abdomen, and back, in dealing with which the sculptor had little experience to guide him. A marked difference is made between the outer and the inner view of the leg, the former being treated in the same style as the arms in Fig. 17. The arms are here better, because less exaggerated. The junction of human shoulders and animal necks is managed with no sort of verisimilitude. But the heads, conventionalized though they are, are full of vigor. One can almost hear the angry snarl and see the lightning flash from the eyes.

It is, in fact, in the rendering of animals that Assyrian art attains to its highest level. In Asshur-bam-pal’s palace extensive hunting scenes give occasion for introducing horses, dogs, wild asses, lions, and lionesses, and these are portrayed with a keen eye for characteristic forms and movements. One of the most famous of these animal figures is the lioness shown in Fig. 21. The creature has been shot through with three great arrows. Blood gushes from her wounds. Her hind legs are paralyzed and drag helplessly behind her. Yet she still moves forward on her fore- feet and howls with rage and agony. Praise of this admirable figure can hardly be too strong. This and others, of equal merit redeem Assyrian art.

As has been already intimated, these bas-reliefs were always colored, though, it would seem, only partially, whereas Egyptian bas-reliefs were completely covered with color.

Of Assyrian stone sculpture in the round nothing has yet been said. A few pieces exist, but their style is so essentially like that of the bas-reliefs that they call for no separate discussion. More interesting is the Assyrian work in bronze. The most important specimens of this are some hammered reliefs, now in the British Museum, which originally adorned a pair of wooden doors in the palace of Shalmaneser III. at Balawat. The art of casting statuettes and statues in bronze was also known and practiced, as it had been much earlier in Babylonia, but the examples preserved to us are few. For the decorative use which the Assyrians made of color, our principal witnesses are then enameled bricks. These are ornamented with various designs–men, genii, animals, and floral patterns–in a few rich colors, chiefly blue and yellow. Of painting, except in the sense of mural decoration, there is no trace.

Egypt and Mesopotamia are, of all the countries around the Mediterranean the only seats of an important, indigenous art, antedating that of Greece. Other countries of Western Asia–Syria, Phrygia, Phenicia, Persia, and so on–seem to have been rather recipients and transmitters than originators of artistic influences. For Egypt, Assyria, and the regions just named did not remain isolated from one another. On the contrary, intercourse both friendly and hostile was active, and artistic products, at least of the small and portable kind, were exchanged. The paths of communication were many, but there is reason for thinking that the Phenicians, the great trading nation of early times, were especially instrumental in disseminating artistic ideas. To these influences Greece was exposed before she had any great art of her own. Among the remains of prehistoric Greece we find, besides some objects of foreign manufacture, others, which, though presumably of native origin, are yet more or less directly inspired by Egyptian or oriental models. But when the true history of Greek art begins, say about 600 B. C., the influences from Egypt and Asia sink into insignificance. It may be that the impulse to represent gods and men in wood or stone was awakened in Greece by the example of older communities. It may be that one or two types of figures were suggested by foreign models. It may be that a hint was taken from Egypt for the form of the Doric column and that the Ionic capital derives from an Assyrian prototype. It is almost certain that the art of casting hollow bronze statues was borrowed from Egypt. And it is indisputable that some ornamental patterns used in architecture and on pottery were rather appropriated than invented by Greece. There is no occasion for disguising or underrating this indebtedness of Greece to her elder neighbors. But, on the other hand, it is important not to exaggerate the debt. Greek art is essentially self-originated, the product of a unique, incommunicable genius. As well might one say that Greek literature is of Asiatic origin, because, forsooth, the Greek alphabet came from Phenicia, as call Greek art the offspring of Egyptian or oriental art because of the impulses received in the days of its beginning. [Footnote: This comparison is perhaps not original with the present writer.]



Thirty years ago it would have been impossible to write with any considerable knowledge of prehistoric art in Greece. The Iliad and Odyssey, to be sure, tell of numerous artistic objects, but no definite pictures of these were called up by the poet’s words. Of actual remains only a few were known. Some implements of stone, the mighty walls of Tiryns, Mycenae, and many another ancient citadel, four “treasuries,” as they were often called, at Mycenae and one at the Boeotian Orchomenus–these made up pretty nearly the total of the visible relics of that early time. To-day the case is far different. Thanks to the faith, the liberality, and the energy of Heinrich Schliemann, an immense impetus has been given to the study of prehistoric Greek archaeology. His excavations at Troy, Mycenae, Tiryns, and elsewhere aroused the world. He labored, and other men, better trained than he, have entered into his labors. The material for study is constantly accumulating, and constant progress is being made in classifying and interpreting this material. A civilization antedating the Homeric poems stands now dimly revealed to us. Mycenae, the city “rich in gold,” the residence of Agamemnon, whence he ruled over “many islands and all Argos,” [Footnote: Iliad II, 108] is seen to have had no merely legendary preeminence. So conspicuous, in fact, does Mycenae appear in the light as well of archaeology as of epic, that it has become common, somewhat misleading though it is, to call a whole epoch and a whole civilization “Mycenaean.” This “Mycenaean” civilization was widely extended over the Greek islands and the eastern portions of continental Greece in the second millennium before our era. Exact dates are very risky, but it is reasonably safe to say that this civilization was in full development as early as the fifteenth century B.C., and that it was not wholly superseded till considerably later than 1000 B.C.

It is our present business to gain some acquaintance with this epoch on its artistic side. It will be readily understood that our knowledge of the long period in question is still very fragmentary, and that, in the absence of written records, our interpretation of the facts is hardly better than a groping in the dark. Fortunately we can afford, so far as the purposes of this book are concerned, to be content with a slight review. For it seems clear that the “Mycenaean” civilization developed little which can be called artistic in the highest sense of that term. The real history of Greek art–that is to say, of Greek architecture, sculpture, and painting–begins much later. Nevertheless it will repay us to get some notion, however slight, of such prehistoric Greek remains as can be included under the broadest acceptation of the word “art.”

In such a survey it is usual to give a place to early walls of fortification, although these, to be sure, were almost purely utilitarian in their character. The classic example of these constructions is the citadel wall of Tiryns in Argolis. Fig. 22 shows a portion of this fortification on the east side, with the principal approach. Huge blocks of roughly dressed limestone–some of those in the lower courses estimated to weigh thirteen or fourteen tons apiece–are piled one upon another, the interstices having been filled with clay and smaller stones. This wall is of varying thickness, averaging at the bottom about twenty-five feet. At two places, viz., at the south end and on the east side near the southeast corner, the thickness is increased, in order to give room in the wall for a row of store chambers with communicating gallery. Fig. 23 shows one of these galleries in its present condition. It will be seen that the roof has been formed by pushing the successive courses of stones further and further inward from both sides until they meet. The result is in form a vault, but the principle of the arch is not there, inasmuch as the stones are not jointed radially, but lie on approximately horizontal beds. Such a construction is sometimes called a “corbelled” arch or vault.

Similar walls to those of Tiryns are found in many places, though nowhere else are the blocks of such gigantic size. The Greeks of the historical period Viewed these imposing structures with as much astonishment as do we, and attributed them (of at least those in Argohs) to the Cyclopes, a mythical folk, conceived in this connection as masons of superhuman strength. Hence the adjective Cyclopian or Cyclopean, whose meaning varies unfortunately in modern usage, but which is best restricted to walls of the Tirynthian type; that is to say, walls built of large blocks not accurately fitted together, the interstices being filled with small stones. This style of masonry seems to be always of early date

Portions of the citadel wall of Mycenae are Cyclopean. Other portions, quite probably of later date, show a very different character (Fig. 24). Here the blocks on the outer surface of the wall, though irregular in shape. are fitted together with close joints. This style of masonry is called polygonal and is to be carefully distinguished from Cyclopean, as above defined. Finally, still other portions of this same Mycenaean wall show on the outside a near approach to what is called ashlar masonry, in which the blocks are rectangular and laid in even horizontal courses. This is the case near the Lion Gate, the principal entrance to the citadel. (Fig. 25)

Next to the walls of fortification the most numerous early remains of the builder’s art in Greece are the “bee-hive” tombs of which many examples have been discovered in Argolis, Laconia, Attica, Boeotia, Thessaly, and Crete. At Mycenae alone there are eight now known, all of them outside the citadel. The largest and most imposing of these, and indeed of the entire class, is the one commonly referred to by the misleading name of the “Treasury of Atreus.” Fig 26 gives a section through this tomb. A straight passage, A B, flanked by walls of ashlar masonry and open to the sky, leads to a doorway, B. This doorway, once closed with heavy doors, was framed with an elaborate aichitectural composition, of which only small fragments now exist and these widely dispersed in London, Berlin, Carlsruhe, Munich, Athens, and Mycenae itself. In the decoration of this facade rosettes and running spirals played a conspicuous part, and on either side of the doorway stood a column which tapered downwards and was ornamented with spirals arranged in zigzag bands. This downward-tapering column, so unlike the columns of classic times, seems to have been in common use in Mycenaean architecture. Inside the doors comes a short passage, B C, roofed by two huge lintel blocks, the inner one of which is estimated to weigh 132 tons. The principal chamber, D, which is embedded in the hill, is circular in plan, with a lower diameter of about forty-seven feet. Its wall is formed of horizontal courses of stone, each pushed further inward than the one below it, until the opening was small enough to be covered by a single stone. The method of roofing is therefore identical in principle with that used in the galleries and store chambers of Tiryns; but here the blocks have been much more carefully worked and accurately fitted, and the exposed ends have been so beveled as to give to the whole interior a smooth, curved surface. Numerous horizontal rows of small holes exist, only partly indicated in our illustration, beginning in the fourth course from the bottom and continuing at intervals probably to the top. In some of these holes bronze nails still remain. These must have served for the attachment of some sort of bronze decoration. The most careful study of the disposition of the holes has led to the conclusion that the fourth and fifth courses were completely covered with bronze plates, presumably ornamented, and that above this there were rows of single ornaments, possibly rosettes. Fig. 27 will give some idea of the present appearance of this chamber, which is still complete, except for the loss of the bronze decoration and two or three stones at the top. The small doorway which is seen here, as well as in Fig. 26, leads into a rectangular chamber, hewn in the living rock. This is much smaller than the main chamber.

At Orchomenus in Boeotia are the ruins of a tomb scarcely inferior in size to the “Treasury of Atreus” and once scarcely less magnificent. Here too, besides the “bee-hive” construction, there was a lateral, rectangular chamber–a feature which occurs only in these two cases. Excavations conducted here by Schliemann in 1880-81 brought to light the broken fragments of a ceiling of greenish schist with which this lateral chamber was once covered. Fig. 28 shows this ceiling restored. The beautiful sculptured decoration consists of elements which recur in almost the same combination on a fragment of painted stucco from the palace of Tiryns. The pattern is derived from Egypt.

The two structures just described were long ago broken into and despoiled. If they stood alone, we could only guess at their original purpose. But some other examples of the same class have been left unmolested or less completely ransacked, until in recent years they could be studied by scientific investigators. Furthermore we have the evidence of numerous rock-cut chambers of analogous shape, many of which have been recently opened in a virgin condition. Thus it has been put beyond a doubt that these subterranean “beehive” chambers were sepulchral monuments, the bodies having been laid in graves within. The largest and best built of these tombs, if not all, must have belonged to princely families.

Even the dwelling-houses of the chieftains who ruled at Tiryns and Mycenae are known to us by their remains. The palace of Tiryns occupied the entire southern end of the citadel, within the massive walls above described. Its ruins were uncovered in 1884- 85. The plan and the lower portions of the walls of an extensive complex of gateways, open courts, and closed rooms were thus revealed. There are remains of a similar building at Mycenae, but less well preserved, while the citadels of Athens and Troy present still more scanty traces of an analogous kind. The walls of the Tirynthian palace were not built of gigantic blocks of stone, such as were used in the citadel wall. That would have been a reckless waste of labor. On the contrary, they were built partly of small irregular pieces of stone, partly of sun-dried bricks. Clay was used to hold these materials together, and beams of wood (“bond timbers”) were laid lengthwise here and there in the wall to give additional strength. Where columns were needed, they were in every case of wood, and consequently have long since decomposed and disappeared. Considerable remains, however, were found of the decorations of the interior. Thus there are bits of what must once have been a beautiful frieze of alabaster, inlaid with pieces of blue glass. A restored piece of this, sufficient to give the pattern, is seen in Fig. 29. Essentially the same design, somewhat simplified, occurs on objects of stone, ivory, and glass found at Mycenae; and in a “bee-hive” tomb of Attica. Again, there are fragments of painted stucco which decorated the walls of rooms in the palace of Tiryns. The largest and most interesting of these fragments is shown in Fig. 30. A yellow and red bull is represented against a blue background, galloping furiously to left, tail in air. Above him is a man of slender build, nearly naked. With his right hand the man grasps one of the bull’s horns; his right leg is bent at the knee and the foot seems to touch with its toes the bull’s back; his outstretched left leg is raised high in air. We have several similar representations on objects of the Mycenaean period, the most interesting of which will be presently described (see page 67). The comparison of these with one another leaves little room for doubt that the Tirynthian fresco was intended to portray the chase of a wild bull. But what does the man’s position signify? Has he been tossed into the air by the infuriated animal? Has he adventurously vaulted upon the creature’s back? Or did the painter mean him to be running on the ground, and, finding the problem of drawing the two figures in their proper relation too much for his simple skill, did he adopt the child-like expedient of putting one above the other? This last seems much the most probable explanation, especially as the same expedient is to be seen in several other designs belonging to this period.

At Mycenae also, both in the principal palace which corresponds to that of Tiryns and in a smaller house, remains of wall-frescoes have been found. These, like those of Tiryns, consisted partly of merely ornamental patterns, partly of genuine pictures, with human and animal figures. But nothing has there come to light at once so well preserved and so spirited as the bull-fresco from Tiryns.

Painting in the Mycenaean period seems to have been nearly, if not entirely, confined to the decoration of house-walls and of pottery. Similarly sculpture had no existence as a great, independent art. There is no trace of any statue in the round of life-size or anything approaching that. This agrees with the impression we get from the Homeric poems, where, with possibly one exception, [Footnote: Iliad VI, 273, 303.] there is no allusion to any sculptured image. There are, to be sure, primitive statuettes, one class of which, very rude and early, in fact pre-Mycenaean in character, is illustrated by Fig. 31. Images of this sort have been found principally on the islands of the Greek Archipelago. They are made of marble or limestone, and represent a naked female figure standing stiffly erect, with arms crossed in front below the breasts. The head, is of extraordinary rudeness, the face of a horse-shoe shape, often with no feature except a long triangular nose. What religious ideas were associated with these barbarous little images by their possessors we can hardly guess. We shall see that when a truly Greek art came into being, figures of goddesses and women were decorously clothed.

Excavations on Mycenaean sites have yielded quantities of small figures, chiefly of painted terra-cotta (cf. Fig. 43), but also of bronze or lead. Of sculpture on a larger scale we possess nothing except the gravestones found at Mycenae and the relief which has given a name, albeit an inaccurate one, to the Lion Gate. The gravestones are probably the earlier. They were found within a circular enclosure just inside the Lion Gate, above a group of six graves–the so-called pit-graves or shaft-graves of Mycenae. The best preserved of these gravestones is shown in Fig. 32. The field, bordered by a double fillet, is divided horizontally into two parts. The upper part is filled with an ingeniously contrived system of running spirals. Below is a battle-scene: a man in a chariot is driving at full speed, and in front there is a naked foot soldier (enemy?), with a sword in his uplifted left hand. Spirals, apparently meaningless, fill in the vacant spaces. The technique is very simple. The figures having been outlined, the background has been cut away to a shallow depth; within the outlines there is no modeling, the surfaces being left flat. It is needless to dwell on the shortcomings of this work, but it is worth while to remind the reader that the gravestone commemorates one who must have been an important personage, probably a chieftain, and that the best available talent would have been secured for the purpose.

The famous relief above the Lion Gate of Mycenae (Figs. 25, 33), though probably of somewhat later date than the sculptured gravestones, is still generally believed to go well back into the second millennium before Christ. It represents two lionesses (not lions) facing one another in heraldic fashion, their fore-paws resting on what is probably to be called an altar or pair, of altars; between them is a column, which tapers downward (cf. the columns of the “Treasury of Atreus,” page 53), surmounted by what seems to be a suggestion of an entablature. The heads of the lionesses, originally made of separate pieces and attached, have been lost. Otherwise the work is in good preservation, in spite of its uninterrupted exposure for more than three thousand years. The technique is quite different from that of the gravestones, for all parts of the relief are carefully modeled. The truth to nature is also far greater here, the animals being tolerably life-like. The design is one which recurs with variations on two or three engraved gems of the Mycenaean period (cf Fig. 40), as well as in a series of later Phrygian reliefs in stone. Placed in this conspicuous position above the principal entrance to the citadel, it may perhaps have symbolized the power of the city and its rulers.

If sculpture in stone appears to have been very little practiced in the Mycenaean age, the arts of the goldsmith, silversmith, gem- engraver, and ivory carver were in great requisition. The shaft- graves of Mycenae contained, besides other things, a rich treasure of gold objects–masks, drinking-cups, diadems, ear-rings, finger-rings, and so on, also several silver vases. One of the latter may be seen in Fig. 43. It is a large jar, about two and one half feet in height, decorated below with horizontal flutings and above with continuous spirals in repousse (i.e., hammered) work. Most of the gold objects must be passed over, interesting though many of them are. But we may pause a moment over a group of circular ornaments in thin gold-leaf about two and one half inches in diameter, of which 701 specimens were found, all in a single grave. The patterns on these discs were not executed with a free hand, but by means of a mold. There are fourteen patterns in all, some of them made up of spirals and serpentine curves, others derived from vegetable and animal forms. Two of the latter class are shown in Figs. 34, 35. One is a butterfly, the other a cuttle- fish, both of them skilfully conventionalized. It is interesting to note how the antennae of the butterfly and still more the arms of the cuttle-fish are made to end in the favorite spiral.

The sculptures and gold objects which have been thus far described or referred to were in all probability executed by native, or at any rate by resident, workmen, though some of the patterns clearly betray oriental influence. Other objects must have been, others may have been, actually imported from Egypt or the East. It is impossible to draw the line with certainty between native and imported. Thus the admirable silver head of a cow from one of the shaft-graves (Fig. 36) has been claimed as an Egyptian or a Phenician production, but the evidence adduced is not decisive. Similarly with the fragment of a silver vase shown in Fig. 37. This has a design in relief (repousse) representing the siege of a walled town or citadel. On the walls is a group of women making frantic gestures. The defenders, most of them naked, are armed with bows and arrows and slings. On the ground lie sling-stones and throwing-sticks,[Footnote: So explained by Mr A. J. Evans in The Journal of Hellenic Studies, XIII., page 199. ] which may be supposed to have been hurled by the enemy. In the background there are four nondescript trees, perhaps intended for olive trees.

Another variety of Mycenaean metal-work is of a much higher order of merit than the dramatic but rude relief on this silver vase. I refer to a number of inlaid dagger-blades, which were found in two of the shaft-graves. Fig. 38 reproduces one side of the finest of these. It is about nine inches long. The blade is of bronze, while the rivets by which the handle was attached are of gold. The design was inlaid in a separate thin slip of bronze, which was then inserted into a sinking on the blade. The materials used are various. The lions and the naked parts of the men are of gold, the shields and trunks of the men of electrum (a mixture of gold and silver), the hair of the men, the manes of the lions, and some other details of an unidentified dark substance; the background, to the edges of the inserted slip, was covered with a black enamel. The scene is a lion-hunt. Four men, one armed only with a bow, the others with lances and huge shields of two different forms, are attacking a lion. A fifth hunter has fallen and lies under the lion’s fore-paws. The beast has already been run through with a lance, the point of which is seen protruding from his haunch; but he still shows fight, while his two companions dash away at full speed. The design is skilfully composed to fill the triangular space, and the attitudes of men and beasts are varied, expressive, and fairly truthful. Another of these dagger-blades has a representation of panthers hunting ducks by the banks of a river in which what may be lotus plants are growing, The lotus would point toward Egypt as the ultimate source of the design. Moreover, a dagger of similar technique has been found in Egypt in the tomb of a queen belonging to the end of the Seventeenth Dynasty. On the other hand, the dress and the shields of the men engaged in the lion-hunt are identical with those on a number of other “Mycenaean” articles–gems, statuettes, etc.–which it is difficult to regard as all of foreign importation. The probability, then, seems to be that while the technique of the dagger-blades was directly or indirectly derived from Egypt, the specimens found at Mycenae were of local manufacture.

The greatest triumph of the goldsmith’s art in the “Mycenaean” period does not come from Mycenae. The two gold cups shown in Fig. 39 were found in 1888 in a bee-hive tomb at Vaphio in Laconia. Each cup is double; that is to say, there is an outer cup, which has been hammered into shape from a single disc of gold and which is therefore without a joint, and an inner cup, similarly made, whose upper edge is bent over the outer cup so as to hold the two together. The horizontal parts of the handles are attached by rivets, while the intervening vertical cylinders are soldered. The designs in repousse work are evidently pendants to one another. The first represents a hunt of wild bulls. One bull, whose appearance indicates the highest pitch of fury, has dashed a would-be captor to earth and is now tossing another on his horns. A second bull, entangled in a stout net, writhes and bellows in the vain effort to escape. A third gallops at full speed from the scene of his comrade’s captivity. The other design shows us four tame bulls. The first submits with evident impatience to his master. The next two stand quietly, with an almost comical effect of good nature and contentment. The fourth advances slowly, browsing. In each composition the ground is indicated, not only beneath the men and animals, but above them, wherever the design affords room. It is an example of the same naive perspective which seems to have been employed in the Tirynthian bull-fresco (Fig. 30). The men, too, are of the same build here as there, and the bulls have similarly curving horns. There are several trees on the cups, two of which are clearly characterized as palms, while the others resemble those in Fig. 37, and may be intended for olives. The bulls are rendered with amazing spirit and understanding. True, there are palpable defects, if one examines closely. For example, the position of the bull in the net is quite impossible. But in general the attitudes and expressions are as lifelike as they are varied. Evidently we have here the work of an artist who drew his inspiration directly from nature.

Engraved gems were in great demand in the Mycenaean period, being worn as ornamental beads, and the work of the gem-engraver, like that of the goldsmith, exhibits excellent qualities. The usual material was some variety of ornamental stone–agate, jasper, rock-crystal, etc. There are two principal shapes, the one lenticular, the other elongated or glandular (Figs. 40, 41). The designs are engraved in intaglio, but, our illustrations being made, as is usual, from plaster impressions, they appear as cameos. Among the subjects the lion plays an important part, sometimes represented singly, sometimes in pairs, sometimes devouring a bull or stag. Cattle, goats, deer, and fantastic creatures (sphinxes, griffins, etc.) are also common. So are human figures, often engaged in war or the chase. In the best of these gems the work is executed with great care, and the designs, though often inaccurate, are nevertheless vigorous. Very commonly, however, the distortion of the figure is carried beyond all bounds. Fig. 40 was selected for illustration, not because it is a particularly favorable specimen of its class, but because it offers an interesting analogy to the relief above the Lion Gate. It represents two lions rampant, their fore-paws resting on an altar (?), their heads, oddly enough, combined into one. The column which figures in the relief above the gate is absent from the gem, but is found on another specimen from Mycenae, where the animals, however, are winged griffins. Fig. 41 has only a standing man, of the wasp-waisted figure and wearing the girdle with which other representations have now made us familiar.

It remains to glance at the most important early varieties of Greek pottery. We need not stop here to study the rude, unpainted, mostly hand-made vases from the earliest strata at Troy and Tiryns, nor the more developed, yet still primitive, ware of the island of Thera. But the Mycenaean pottery is of too great importance to be passed over. This was the characteristic ware of the Mycenaean civilization. The probability is that it was manufactured at several different places, of which Mycenae may have been one and perhaps the most important. It was an article of export and thus found its way even into Egypt, where specimens have been discovered in tombs of the Eighteenth Dynasty and later. The variations in form and ornamentation are considerable, as is natural with an article whose production was carried on at different centers and during a period of centuries. Fig. 42 shows a few of the characteristic shapes and decorations; some additional pieces may be seen in Fig. 43. The Mycenaean vases are mostly wheel-made. The decoration, in the great majority of examples, is applied in a lustrous color, generally red, shading to brown or black. The favorite elements of design are bands and spirals and a variety of animal and vegetable forms, chiefly marine. Thus the vase at the bottom of Fig. 42, on the left, has a conventionalized nautilus; the one at the top, on the right, shows a pair of lily-like plants; and the jug in the middle of Fig. 43 is covered with the stalks and leaves of what is perhaps meant for seaweed. Quadrupeds and men belong to the latest period of the style, the vase-painters of the early and central Mycenaean periods having abstained, for some reason or other, from those subjects which formed the stock in trade of the gem-engravers.

The Mycenaean pottery was gradually superseded by pottery of an essentially different style, called Geometric, from the character of its painted decorations. It is impossible to say when this style made its first appearance in Greece, but it seems to have flourished for some hundreds of years and to have lasted till as late as the end of the eighth century B. C. It falls into several local varieties, of which the most important is the Athenian. This is commonly called Dipylon pottery, from the fact that the cemetery near the Dipylon, the chief gate of ancient Athens, has supplied the greatest number of specimens. Some of these Dipylon vases are of great size and served as funeral monuments. Fig. 44 gives a good example of this class. It is four feet high. Both the shape and the decoration are very different from those of the Mycenaean style. The surface is almost completely covered by a system of ornament in which zigzags, meanders, and groups of concentric circles play an important part. In this system of Geometric patterns zones or friezes are reserved for designs into which human and animal figures enter. The center of interest is in the middle of the upper frieze, between the handles. Here we see a corpse upon a funeral bier, drawn by a two-horse wagon. To right and left are mourners arranged in two rows, one above the other. The lower frieze, which encircles the vase about at its middle, consists of a line of two-horse chariots and their drivers. The drawing of these designs is illustrated on a larger scale on the right and left of the vase in Fig. 44; it is more childish than anything we have seen from the Mycenaean period. The horses have thin bodies, legs, and necks, and their heads look as much like fishes as anything. The men and women are just as bad. Their heads show no feature save, at most, a dot for the eye and a projection for the nose, with now and then a sort of tassel for the hair; their bodies are triangular, except those of the charioteers, whose shape is perhaps derived from one form of Greek shield; their thin arms, of varying lengths, are entirely destitute of natural shape; their long legs, though thigh and calf are distinguished, are only a shade more like reality than the arms. Such incapacity on the part of the designer would be hard to explain, were he to be regarded as the direct heir of the Mycenaean culture. But the sources of the Geometric style are probably to be sought among other tribes than those which were dominant in the days of Mycenae’s splendor. Greek tradition tells of a great movement of population, the so-called Dorian migration, which took place some centuries before the beginning of recorded history in Greece. If that invasion and conquest of Peloponnesus by ruder tribes from the North be a fact, then the hypothesis is a plausible one which would connect the gradual disappearance of Mycenaean art with that great change. Geometric art, according to this theory, would have originated with the tribes which now came to the fore.

Besides the Geometric pottery and its offshoots, several other local varieties were produced in Greece in the eighth and seventh centuries. These are sometimes grouped together under the name of “orientalizing” styles, because, in a greater or less degree, they show in their ornamentation the influence of oriental models, of which the pure Geometric style betrays no trace. It is impossible here to describe all these local wares, but a single plate from Rhodes (Fig. 45) may serve to illustrate the degree of proficiency in the drawing of the human figure which had been attained about the end of the seventh century. Additional interest is lent to this design by the names attached to the three men. The combatants are Menelaus and Hector; the fallen warrior is Euphorbus. Here for the first time we find depicted a scene from the Trojan War. From this time on the epic legends form a large part of the repertory of the vase-painters.



The supreme achievement of Greek architecture was the temple. In imperial Rome, or in any typical city of the Roman Empire, the most extensive and imposing buildings were secular–basilicas, baths, amphitheaters, porticoes, aqueducts. In Athens, on the other hand, or in any typical Greek city, there was little or nothing to vie with the temples and the sacred edifices associated with them. Public secular buildings, of course, there were, but the little we know of them does not suggest that they often ranked among the architectural glories of the country. Private houses were in the best period of small pretensions. It was to the temple and its adjunct buildings that the architectural genius and the material resources of Greece were devoted. It is the temple, then, which we have above all to study.

Before beginning, however, to analyze the artistic features of the temple, it will be useful to consider the building materials which a Greek architect had at his disposal and his methods of putting them together. Greece is richly provided with good building stone. At many points there are inexhaustible stores of white marble. The island of Paros, one of the Cyclades, and Mount Pentelicus in Attica–to name only the two best and most famous quarries–are simply masses of white marble, suitable as well for the builder as the sculptor. There are besides various beautiful colored marbles, but it was left to the Romans to bring these into use. Then there are many commoner sorts of stone ready to the builder’s hand, especially the rather soft, brown limestones which the Greeks called by the general name of poros. [Footnote: The word has no connection with porous] This material was not disdained, even for important buildings. Thus the Temple of Zeus at Olympia, one of the two most important religious centers in the Greek world, was built of local poros. The same was the case with the numerous temples of Acragas (Girgenti) and Selinus in Sicily. An even meaner material, sun-dried brick, was sometimes, perhaps often, employed for cella walls. Where poros or crude brick was used, it was coated over with a very fine, hard stucco, which gave a surface like that of marble.

It is remarkable that no use was made in Greece of baked bricks before the period of Roman domination. Roof-tiles of terra-cotta were in use from an early period, and Greek travelers to Babylonia brought back word of the use of baked bricks in that country. Nevertheless Greek builders showed no disposition to adopt baked bricks for their masonry.

This probably hangs together with another important fact, the absence of lime-mortar from Greek architecture. Lime-stucco was in use from time immemorial. But lime-mortar, i.e., lime mixed with sand and used as a bond for masonry, is all but unknown in Greek work. [Footnote: The solitary exception at present known is an Attic tomb built of crude bricks laid in lime-mortar] Consequently in the walls of temples and other carefully constructed buildings an elaborate system of bonding by means of clamps and dowels was resorted to. Fig. 46 illustrates this and some other points. The blocks of marble are seen to be perfectly rectangular and of uniform length and height. Each end of every block is worked with a slightly raised and well-smoothed border, for the purpose of securing without unnecessary labor a perfectly accurate joint. The shallow holes, III, III, in the upper surfaces are pry-holes, which were of use in prying the blocks into position. The adjustment having been made, contiguous blocks in the same course were bonded to one another by clamps, I, I, embedded horizontally, while the sliding of one course upon another was prevented by upright dowels, II, II. Greek clamps and dowels were usually of iron and they were fixed in their sockets by means of molten lead run in. The form of the clamp differs at different periods. The double-T shape shown in the illustration is characteristic of the best age (cf. also Fig. 48).

Another important fact to be noted at the outset is the absence of the arch from Greek architecture. It is reported by the Roman philosopher, Seneca, that the principle of the arch was “discovered” by the Greek philosopher, Democritus, who lived in the latter half of the fifth century B. C. That he independently discovered the arch as a practical possibility is most unlikely, seeing that it had been used for ages in Egypt and Mesopotamia; but it may be that he discussed, however imperfectly, the mathematical theory of the subject. If so, it would seem likely that he had practical illustrations about him; and this view receives some support from the existence of a few subterranean vaults which perhaps go back to the good Greek period. Be that as it may, the arch plays absolutely no part in the columnar architecture of Greece. In a Greek temple or similar building only the flat ceiling was known. Above the exterior portico and the vestibules of a temple the ceiling was sometimes of stone or marble, sometimes of wood; in the interior it was always of wood. It follows that no very wide space could be ceiled over without extra supports. At Priene in Asia Minor we find a temple (Fig. 49) whose cella, slightly over thirty feet in breadth, has no interior columns. The architect of the Temple of Athena on the island of AEgina (Fig. 52) was less venturesome. Although the cella there is only 21 1/4 feet in breadth, we find, as in large temples, a double row of columns to help support the ceiling. And when a really large room was built, like the Hall of Initiation at Eleusis or the Assembly Hall of the Arcadians at Megalopolis, such a forest of pillars was required as must have seriously interfered with the convenience of congregations. We are now ready to study the plan of a Greek temple. The essential feature is an enclosed chamber, commonly called by the Latin name cella, in which stood, as a rule, the image of the god or goddess to whom the temple was dedicated. Fig. 47 shows a very simple plan. Here the side walls of the cella are prolonged in front and terminate in antae (see below, page 88). Between the antae are two columns. This type of temple is called a templum in antis. Were the vestibule (pronaos) repeated at the other end of the building, it would be called an opisthodomos, and the whole building would be a double templum in antis. In Fig. 48 the vestibules are formed by rows of columns extending across the whole width of the cella, whose side walls are not prolonged. Did a vestibule exist at the front only, the temple would be called prostyle; as it is, it is amphiprostyle. Only small Greek temples have as simple a plan as those just described. Larger temples are peripteral, i.e., are surrounded by a colonnade or peristyle (Figs. 49. 50). In Fig. 49 the cella with its vestibules has the form of a double templum in antis, in Fig 50 it is amphiprostyle. A further difference should be noted. In Fig. 49, which is the plan of an Ionic temple, the antae and columns of the vestibules are in line with columns of the outer row, at both the ends and the sides; in Fig. 50, which is the plan of a Doric temple, the exterior columns are set without regard to the cella wall, and the columns of the vestibules. This is a regular difference between Doric and Ionic temples, though the rule is subject to a few exceptions in the case of the former.

The plan of almost any Greek temple will be found to be referable to one or other of the types just described, although there are great differences in the proportions of the several parts. It remains only to add that in almost every case the principal front was toward the east or nearly so. When Greek temples were converted into Christian churches, as often happened, it was necessary, in order to conform to the Christian ritual, to reverse this arrangement and to place the principal entrance at the western end.

The next thing is to study the principal elements of a Greek temple as seen in elevation. This brings us to the subject of the Greek “orders.” There are two principal orders in Greek architecture, the Doric and the Ionic. Figs. 51 and 61 show a characteristic specimen of each. The term “order,” it should be said, is commonly restricted in architectural parlance to the column and entablature. Our illustrations, however, show all the features of a Doric and an Ionic facade. There are several points of agreement between the two: in each the columns rest on a stepped base, called the crepidoma, the uppermost step of which is the stylobate; in each the shaft of the column tapers from the lower to the upper end, is channeled or fluted vertically, and is surmounted by a projecting member called a capital; in each the entablature consists of three members–architrave, frieze, and cornice. There the important points of agreement end. The differences will best be fixed in mind by a detailed examination of each order separately.

Our typical example of the Doric order (Fig. 51) is taken from the Temple of Aphaia on the island of Aegina–a temple probably erected about 480 B.C. (cf. Fig. 52.) The column consists of two parts, shaft and capital. It is of sturdy proportions, its height being about five and one half times the lower diameter of the shaft. If the shaft tapered upward at a uniform rate, it would have the form of a truncated cone. Instead of that, the shaft has an ENTASIS or swelling. Imagine a vertical section to be made through the middle of the column. If, then, the diminution of the shaft were uniform, the sides of this section would be straight lines. In reality, however, they are slightly curved lines, convex outward. This addition to the form of a truncated cone is the entasis. It is greatest at about one third or one half the height of the shaft, and there amounts, in cases that have been measured, to from 1/80 to 1/140 of the lower diameter of the shaft.[Footnote: Observe that the entasis is so slight that the lowest diameter of the shaft is always the greatest diameter. The illustration is unfortunately not quite correct, since it gives the shaft a uniform diameter for about one third of its height.] In some early Doric temples, as the one at Assos in Asia Minor, there is no entasis. The channels or flutes in our typical column are twenty in number. More rarely we find sixteen; much more rarely larger multiples of four. These channels are so placed that one comes directly under the middle of each face of the capital. They are comparatively shallow, and are separated from one another by sharp edges or ARRISES. The capital, though worked out of one block, may be regarded as consisting of two parts–a cushion- shaped member called an ECHINUS, encircled below by three to five ANNULETS, (cf. Figs. 59, 60) and a square slab called an ABACUS, the latter so placed that its sides are parallel to the sides of the building. The ARCHITRAVE is a succession of horizontal beams resting upon the columns. The face of this member is plain, except that along the upper edge there runs a slightly projecting flat band called a TAENIA, with regulae and guttae at equal intervals; these last are best considered in connection with the frieze. The FRIEZE is made up of alternating triglyphs and metopes. A TRIGLYPH is a block whose height is nearly twice its width; upon its face are two furrows, triangular in plan, and its outer edges are chamfered off. Thus we may say that the triglyph has two furrows and two half-furrows; these do not extend to the top of the block. A triglyph is placed over the center of each column and over the center of each intercolumniation. But at the corners of the buildings the intercolumniations are diminished, with the result that the corner triglyphs do not stand over the centers of the corner columns, but farther out (cf. Fig. 52). Under each triglyph there is worked upon the face of the architrave, directly below the taenia, a REGULA, shaped like a small cleat, and to the under surface of this regula is attached a row of six cylindrical or conical GUTTAE. Between every two triglyphs, and standing a little farther back, there is a square or nearly square slab or block called a METOPE. This has a flat band across the top; for the rest, its face may be either plain or sculptured in relief. The uppermost member of the entablature, the CORNICE, consists principally of a projecting portion, the CORONA, on whose inclined under surface or soffit are rectangular projections, the so-called MUTULES (best seen in the frontispiece), one over each triglyph and each metope. Three rows of six guttae each are attached to the under surface of a mutule. Above the cornice, at the east and west ends of the building, come the triangular PEDIMENTS or gables, formed by the sloping roof and adapted for groups of sculpture. The pediment is protected above by a “raking” cornice, which has not the same form as the horizontal cornice, the principal difference being that the under surface of the raking cornice is concave and without mutules. Above the raking cornice comes a SIMA or gutter-facing, which in buildings of good period has a curvilinear profile. This sima is sometimes continued along the long sides of the building, and sometimes not. When it is so continued, water-spouts are inserted into it at intervals, usually in the form of lions’ heads. Fig 53 shows a fine lion’s head of this sort from a sixth century temple on the Athenian Acropolis. If it be added that upon the apex and the lower corners of the pediment there were commonly pedestals which supported statues or other ornamental objects (Fig. 52), mention will have been made of all the main features of the exterior of a Doric peripteral temple.

Every other part of the building had likewise its established form, but it will not be possible here to describe or even to mention every detail. The most important member not yet treated of is the ANTA. An anta may be described as a pilaster forming the termination of a wall. It stands directly opposite a column and is of the same height with it, its function being to receive one end of an architrave block, the other end of which is borne by the column. The breadth of its front face is slightly greater than the thickness of the wall; the breadth of a side face depends upon whether or not the anta supports an architrave on that side (Figs. 47, 48, 49, 50). The Doric anta has a special capital, quite unlike the capital of the column. Fig. 54 shows an example from a building erected in 437-32 B. C. Its most striking feature is the DORIC CYMA, or HAWK’S-BEAK MOLDING, the characteristic molding of the Doric style (Fig. 55), used also to crown the horizontal cornice and in other situations (Fig. 51 and frontispiece). Below the capital the anta is treated precisely like the wall of which it forms a part; that is to say, its surfaces are plain, except for the simple base-molding, which extends also along the foot of the wall. The method of ceiling the peristyle and vestibules by means of ceiling-beams on which rest slabs decorated with square, recessed panels or COFFERS may be indistinctly seen in Fig. 56. Within the cella, when columns were used to help support the wooden ceiling, there seem to have been regularly two ranges, one above the other. This is the only case, so far as we know, in which Greek architecture of the best period put one range of columns above another. There were probably no windows of any kind, so that the cella received no daylight, except such as entered by the great front doorway, when the doors were open. [Footnote: This whole matter, however, is in dispute. Some authorities believe that large temples were HYPOETHRAL, i. e., open, or partly open, to the sky, or in some way lighted from above. In Fig. 56 an open grating has been inserted above the doors, but for such an arrangement in a Greek temple there is no evidence, so far as I am aware.] The roof-beams were of wood. The roof was covered with terra-cotta or marble tiles.

Such are the main features of a Doric temple (those last mentioned not being peculiar to the Doric style). Little has been said thus far of variation in these features. Yet variation there was. Not to dwell on local differences, as between Greece proper and the Greek colonies in Sicily, there was a development constantly going on, changing the forms of details and the relative proportions of parts and even introducing new features originally foreign to the style. Thus the column grows slenderer from century to century. In early examples it is from four to five lower diameters in height in the best period (fifth and fourth centuries) about five and one half, in the post classical period, six to seven. The difference in this respect between early and late examples may be seen by comparing the sixth century Temple of Posidon (?) at Paestum in southern Italy (Fig. 57) with the third (?) century Temple of Zeus at Nemea (Fig. 58). Again, the echinus of the capital is in the early period widely flaring, making in some very early examples an angle at the start of not more than fifteen or twenty degrees with the horizontal (Fig. 59); in the best period it rises more steeply, starting at an angle of about fifty degrees with the horizontal and having a profile which closely approaches a straight line, until it curves inward under the abacus (Fig. 51); in the post-classical period it is low and sometimes quite conical (Fig. 60). In general, the degeneracy of post-classical Greek architecture is in nothing more marked than in the loss of those subtle curves which characterize the best Greek work. Other differences must be learned from more extended treatises.

The Ionic order was of a much more luxuriant character than the Doric. Our typical example (Fig. 61) is taken from the Temple of Priene in Asia Minor–a temple erected about 340-30 B. C. The column has a base consisting of a plain square PLINTH, two TROCHILI with moldings, and a TORUS fluted horizontally. The Ionic shaft is much slenderer than the Doric, the height of the column (including base and capital) being in different examples from eight to ten times the lower diameter of the shaft. The diminution of the shaft is naturally less than in the Doric, and the entasis, where any has been detected, is exceedingly slight. The flutes, twenty-four in number, are deeper than in the Doric shaft, being in fact nearly or quite semicircular, and they are separated from one another by flat bands or fillets. For the form of the capital it will be better to refer to Fig. 62, taken from an Attic building of the latter half of the fifth century. The principal parts are an OVOLO and a SPIRAL ROLL (the latter name not in general use). The ovolo has a convex profile, and is sometimes called a quarter-round; it is enriched with an EGG-AND-DART ornament The spiral roll may be conceived as a long cushion, whose ends are rolled under to form the VOLUTES. The part connecting the volutes is slightly hollowed, and the channel thus formed is continued into the volutes. As seen from the side (Fig. 63), the end of the spiral roll is called a BOLSTER; it has the appearance of being drawn together by a number of encircling bands. On the front, the angles formed by the spiral roll are filled by a conventionalized floral ornament (the so-called PALMETTE). Above the spiral roll is a low abacus, oblong or square in plan. In Fig. 62 the profile of the abacus is an ovolo on which the egg-and-dart ornament was painted (cf. Fig. 66, where the ornament is sculptured). In Fig. 61, as in Fig. 71, the profile is a complex curve called a CYMA REVERSA, convex above and concave below, enriched with a sculptured LEAF-AND-DART ornament. [Footnote: The egg-and-dart is found only on the ovolo, the leaf-and-dart only on the cyma reversa or the cyma recta (concave above and convex below) Both ornaments are in origin leaf-patterns one row of leaves showing their points behind another row.] Finally, attention may be called to the ASTRAGAL or PEARL-BEADING just under the ovolo in Figs. 61, 71. This might be described as a string of beads and buttons, two buttons alternating with a single bead.

In the normal Ionic capital the opposite faces are of identical appearance. If this were the case with the capital at the corner of a building, the result would be that on the side of the building all the capitals would present their bolsters instead of their volutes to the spectator. The only way to prevent this was to distort the corner capital into the form shown by Fig. 64; cf. also Figs. 61 and 70.

The Ionic architrave is divided horizontally into three (or sometimes two) bands, each of the upper ones projecting slightly over the one below it. It is crowned by a sort of cornice enriched with moldings. The frieze is not divided like the Doric frieze, but presents an uninterrupted surface. It may be either plain or covered with relief-sculpture. It is finished off with moldings along the upper edge. The cornice (cf. Fig. 65) consists of two principal parts. First comes a projecting block, into whose face rectangular cuttings have been made at short intervals, thus leaving a succession of cogs or DENTELS; above these are moldings. Secondly there is a much more widely projecting block, the CORONA, whose under surface is hollowed to lighten the weight and whose face is capped with moldings. The raking cornice is like the horizontal cornice except that it has no dentels. The sima or gutter-facing, whose profile is here a cyma recta (concave above and convex below), is enriched with sculptured floral ornament.

In the Ionic buildings of Attica the base of the column consists of two tori separated by a trochilus. The proportions of these parts vary considerably. The base in Fig. 66 (from a building finished about 408 B.C.) is worthy of attentive examination by reason of its harmonious proportions. In the Roman form of this base, too often imitated nowadays, the trochilus has too small a diameter. The Attic-Ionic cornice never has dentels, unless the cornice of the Caryatid portico of the Erechtheum ought to be reckoned as an instance (Fig. 67).

The capital shown in Fig. 66 is a special variety of the Ionic capital, of rather rare occurrence. Its distinguishing features are the insertion between ovolo and spiral roll of a torus ornamented with a braided pattern, called a GUILLOCHE; the absence of the palmettes from the corners formed by the spiral roll; and the fact that the channel of the roll is double instead of single, which gives a more elaborate character to that member. Finally, in the Erechtheum the upper part or necking of the shaft is enriched with an exquisitely wrought band of floral ornament, the so-called honeysuckle pattern. This feature is met with in some other examples.

As in the Doric style, so in the Ionic, the anta-capital is quite unlike the column-capital. Fig. 68 shows an anta-capital from the Erechtheum, with an adjacent portion of the wall-band; cf. also Fig. 69. Perhaps it is inaccurate in this case to speak of an anta-capital at all, seeing that the anta simply shares the moldings which crown the wall. The floral frieze under the moldings is, however, somewhat more elaborate on the anta than on the adjacent wall. The Ionic method of ceiling a peristyle or portico may be partly seen in Fig 69. The principal ceiling-beams here rest upon the architrave, instead of upon the frieze, as in a Doric building (cf. Fig. 56). Above were the usual coffered slabs. The same illustration shows a well-preserved and finely proportioned doorway, but unfortunately leaves the details of its ornamentation indistinct.

The Ionic order was much used in the Greek cities of Asia Minor for peripteral temples. The most considerable remains of such buildings, at Ephesus, Priene, etc., belong to the fourth century or later. In Greece proper there is no known instance of a peripteral Ionic temple, but the order was sometimes used for small prostyle and amphiprostyle buildings, such as the Temple of Wingless Victory in Athens (Fig. 70). Furthermore, Ionic columns were sometimes employed in the interior of Doric temples, as at Bassae in Arcadia and (probably) in the temple built by Scopas at Tegea. In the Propylaea or gateway of the Athenian Acropolis we even find the Doric and Ionic orders juxtaposed, the exterior architecture being Doric and the interior Ionic, with no wall to separate them. One more interesting occurrence of the Ionic order in Greece proper may be mentioned, viz., in the Philippeum at Olympia (about 336 B.C.). This is a circular building, surrounded by an Ionic colonnade. Still other types of building afforded opportunity enough for the employment of this style.

After what has been said of the gradual changes in the Doric order, it will be understood that the Ionic order was not the same in the sixth century as in the fifth, nor in the fifth the same as in the third. The most striking change concerns the spiral roll of the capital. In the good period the portion of this member which connects the volutes is bounded below by a depressed curve, graceful and vigorous. With the gradual degradation of taste this curve tended to become a straight line, the result being the unlovely, mechanical form shown in Fig. 71 (from a building of Ptolemy Philadelphus, who reigned from 283 to 246 B.C.). Better formed capitals than this continued for some time to be made in Greek lands; but the type just shown, or rather something resembling it in the disagreeable feature noted, became canonical with Roman architects.

The Corinthian order, as it is commonly called, hardly deserves to be called a distinct order. Its only peculiar feature is the capital; otherwise it agrees with the Ionic order. The Corinthian capital is said to have been invented in the fifth century; and a solitary specimen, of a meager and rudimentary type, found in 1812 in the Temple of Apollo at Bassae, but since lost, was perhaps an original part of that building (about 430 B. C). At present the earliest extant specimens are from the interior of a round building of the fourth century near Epidaurus in Argolis (Fig. 72). [Footnote: For some reason or other the particular capital shown in our illustration was not used in the building, but it is of the same model as those actually used, except that the edge of the abacus is not finished.] It was from such a form as this that the luxuriant type of Corinthian capital so much in favor with Roman architects and their public was derived. On the other hand, the form shown in Fig. 73, from a little building erected in 334 B.C. or soon after, is a variant which seems to have left no lineal successors. In its usual form the Corinthian capital has a cylindrical core, which expands slightly toward the top so as to become bell-shaped; around the lower part of this core are two rows of conventionalized acanthus leaves, eight in each row; from these rise eight principal stalks (each, in fully developed examples, wrapped about its base with an acanthus leaf) which combine, two and two, to form four volutes (HELICES), one under each corner of the abacus, while smaller stalks, branching from the first, cover the rest of the upper part of the core; there is commonly a floral ornament on the middle of each face at the top; finally the abacus has, in plan, the form of a square whose sides have been hollowed out and whose corners have been truncated. In the form shown in Fig. 73 we find, first, a row of sixteen simple leaves, like those of a reed, with the points of a second row showing between them; then a single row of eight acanthus leaves; then the scroll-work, supporting a palmette on each side; and finally an abacus whose profile is made up of a trochilus and an ovolo. This capital, though extremely elegant, is open to the charge of appearing weak at its middle. There is a much less ornate variety, also reckoned as Corinthian, which has no scroll- work, but only a row of acanthus leaves with a row of reed leaves above them around a bell-shaped core, the whole surmounted by a square abacus. In the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates the cornice has dentels, and this was always the case, so far as we know, where the Corinthian capital was used. In Corinthian buildings the anta, where met with, has a capital like that of the column. But there is very little material to generalize from until we descend to Roman times.

Some allusion has been made in the foregoing to other types of columnar buildings besides the temple. The principal ones of which remains exist are PROPYLAEA and STOAS. Propylaea is the Greek name for a form of gateway, consisting essentially of a cross wall between side walls, with a portico on each front. Such gateways occur in many places as entrances to sacred precincts. The finest example, and one of the noblest monuments of Greek architecture, is that at the west end of the Athenian Acropolis. The stoa may be defined as a building having an open range of columns on at least one side. Usually its length was much greater than its depth. Stoas were often built in sacred precincts, as at Olympia, and also for secular purposes along public streets, as in Athens. These and other buildings into which the column entered as an integral feature involved no new architectural elements or principles.

One highly important fact about Greek architecture has thus far been only touched upon; that is, the liberal use it made of color. The ruins of Greek temples are to-day monochromatic, either glittering white, as is the temple at Sunium, or of a golden brown, as are the Parthenon and other buildings of Pentelic marble, or of a still warmer brown, as are the limestone temples of Paestum and Girgenti (Acragas). But this uniformity of tint is due only to time. A “White City,” such as made the pride of Chicago in 1893, would have been unimaginable to an ancient Greek. Even to-day the attentive observer may sometimes see upon old Greek buildings, as, for example, upon ceiling-beams of the Parthenon, traces left by patterns from which the color has vanished. In other instances remains of actual color exist. So specks of blue paint may still be seen, or might a few years ago, on blocks belonging to the Athenian Propylaea. But our most abundant evidence for the original use of color comes from architectural fragments recently unearthed. During the excavation of Olympia (1875-81) this matter of the coloring of architecture was constantly in mind and a large body of facts relating to it was accumulated. Every new and important excavation adds to the store. At present our information is much fuller in regard to the polychromy of Doric than of Ionic buildings. It appears that, just as the forms and proportions of a building and of all its details were determined by precedent, yet not so absolutely as to leave no scope for the exercise of individual genius, so there was an established system in the coloring of a building, yet a system which varied somewhat according to time and place and the taste of the architect. The frontispiece attempts to suggest what the coloring of the Parthenon was like, and thus to illustrate the general scheme of Doric polychromy. The colors used were chiefly dark blue, sometimes almost black, and red; green and yellow also occur, and some details were gilded. The coloration of the building was far from total. Plain surfaces, as walls, were unpainted. So too were the columns, including, probably, their capitals, except between the annulets. Thus color was confined to the upper members–the triglyphs, the under surface (soffit) of the cornice, the sima, the anta-capitals (cf. Fig. 54), the ornamental details generally, the coffers of the ceiling, and the backgrounds of sculpture. [Footnote: Our frontispiece gives the backgrounds of the metopes as plain, but this is probably an error] The triglyphs, regulae, and mutules were blue; the taenia of the architrave and the soffit of the cornice between the mutules with the adjacent narrow bands were red; the backgrounds of sculpture, either blue or red; the hawk’s-beak molding, alternating blue and red; and so on. The principal uncertainty regards the treatment of the unpainted members. Were these left of a glittering white, or were they toned down, in the case of marble buildings, by some application or other, so as to contrast less glaringly with the painted portions? The latter supposition receives some confirmation from Vitruvius, a Roman writer on architecture of the age of Augustus, and seems to some modern writers to be demanded by aesthetic considerations. On the other hand, the evidence of the Olympia buildings points the other way. Perhaps the actual practice varied. As for the coloring of Ionic architecture, we know that the capital of the column was painted, but otherwise our information is very scanty.

If it be asked what led the Greeks to a use of color so strange to us and, on first acquaintance, so little to our taste, it may be answered that possibly the example of their neighbors had something to do with it. The architecture of Egypt, of Mesopotamia, of Persia, was polychromatic. But probably the practice of the Greeks was in the main an inheritance from the early days of their own civilization. According to a well- supported theory, the Doric temple of the historical period is a translation into stone or marble of a primitive edifice whose walls were of sun-dried bricks and whose columns and entablature were of wood. Now it is natural and appropriate to paint wood; and we may suppose that the taste for a partially colored architecture was thus formed. This theory does not indeed explain everything. It does not, for example, explain why the columns or the architrave should be uncolored. In short, the Greek system of polychromy presents itself to us as a largely arbitrary system.

More interesting than the question of origin is the question of aesthetic effect. Was the Greek use of color in good taste? It is not easy to answer with a simple yes or no. Many of the attempts to represent the facts by restorations on paper have been crude and vulgar enough. On the other hand, some experiments in decorating modern buildings with color, in a fashion, to be sure, much less liberal than that of ancient Greece, have produced pleasing results. At present the question is rather one of faith than of sight; and most students of the subject have faith to believe that the appearance of a Greek temple in all its pomp of color was not only sumptuous, but harmonious and appropriate.

When we compare the architecture of Greece with that of other countries, we must be struck with the remarkable degree in which the former adhered to established usage, both in the general plan of a building and in the forms and proportions of each feature. Some measure of adherence to precedent is indeed implied in the very existence of an architectural style. What is meant is that the Greek measure was unusual, perhaps unparalleled. Yet the following of established canons was not pushed to a slavish extreme. A fine Greek temple could not be built according to a hard and fast rule. While the architect refrained from bold and lawless innovations, he yet had scope to exercise his genius. The differences between the Parthenon and any other contemporary Doric temple would seem slight, when regarded singly; but the preeminent perfection of the Parthenon lay in just those skilfully calculated differences

A Greek columnar building is extremely simple in form.[Footnote: The substance of this paragraph and the following is borrowed from Boutmy, “Philosophie de l’Architecture en Grece” (Paris, 1870)] The outlines of an ordinary temple are those of an oblong rectangular block surmounted by a triangular roof. With a qualification to be explained presently, all the lines of the building, except those of the roof, are either horizontal or perpendicular. The most complicated Greek columnar buildings known, the Erechtheum and the Propylaea of the Athenian Acropolis, are simplicity itself when compared to a Gothic cathedral, with its irregular plan, its towers, its wheel windows, its multitudinous diagonal lines.

The extreme simplicity which characterizes the general form of a Greek building extends also to its sculptured and painted ornaments. In the Doric style these are very sparingly used; and even the Ionic style, though more luxuriant, seems reserved in comparison with the wealth of ornamental detail in a Gothic cathedral. Moreover, the Greek ornaments are simple in character. Examine again the hawk’s-beak, the egg-and-dart, the leaf-and- dart, the astragal, the guilloche, the honeysuckle, the meander or fret. These are almost the only continuous patterns in use in Greek architecture. Each consists of a small number of elements recurring in unvarying order; a short section is enough to give the entire pattern. Contrast this with the string-course in the nave of the Cathedral of Amiens, where the motive of the design undergoes constant variation, no piece exactly duplicating its neighbor, or with the intricate interlacing patterns of Arabic decoration, and you will have a striking illustration of the Greek love for the finite and comprehensible.

When it was said just now that the main lines of a Greek temple are either horizontal or perpendicular, the statement called for qualification. The elevations of the most perfect of Doric buildings, the Parthenon, could not be drawn with a ruler. Some of the apparently straight lines are really curved. The stylobate is not level, but convex, the rise of the curve amounting to 1/450 of the length of the building; the architrave has also a rising curve, but slighter than that of the stylobate. Then again, many of the lines that would commonly be taken for vertical are in reality slightly inclined. The columns slope inward and so do the principal surfaces of the building, while the anta-capitals slope forward. These refinements, or some of them, have been observed in several other buildings. They are commonly regarded as designed to obviate certain optical illusions supposed to arise in their absence. But perhaps, as one writer has suggested, their principal office was to save the building from an appearance of mathematical rigidity, to give it something of the semblance of a living thing.

Be that as it may, these manifold subtle curves and sloping lines testify to the extraordinary nicety of Greek workmanship. A column of the Parthenon, with its inclination, its tapering, its entasis, and its fluting, could not have been constructed without the most conscientious skill. In fact, the capabilities of the workmen kept pace with the demands of the architects. No matter how delicate the adjustment to be made, the task was perfectly achieved. And when it came to the execution of ornamental details, these were wrought with a free hand and, in the best period, with fine artistic feeling. The wall-band of the Erechtheum is one of the most exquisite things which Greece has left us.

Simplicity in general form, harmony of proportion, refinement of line–these are the great features of Greek columnar architecture.

One other type of Greek building, into which the column does not enter, or enters only in a very subordinate way, remains to be mentioned–the theater. Theaters abounded in Greece. Every considerable city and many a smaller place had at least one, and the ruins of these structures rank with temples and walls of fortification among the commonest classes of ruins in Greek lands. But in a sketch of Greek art they may be rapidly dismissed. That part of the theater which was occupied by spectators–the auditorium, as we may call it–was commonly built into a natural slope, helped out by means of artificial embankments and supporting walls. There was no roof. The building, therefore, had no exterior, or none to speak of. Such beauty as it possessed was due mainly to its proportions. The theater at the sanctuary of Asclepius near Epidaurus, the work of the same architect who built the round building with the Corinthian columns referred to on page 103, was distinguished in ancient times for “harmony and beauty,” as the Greek traveler, Pausamas (about 165 A. D.), puts it. It is fortunately one of the best preserved. Fig. 74, a view taken from a considerable distance will give some idea of that quality which Pausanias justly admired. Fronting the auditorium was the stage building, of which little but foundations remains anywhere. So far as can be ascertained, this stage building had but small architectural pretensions until the post classical period (i.e., after Alexander) But there was opportunity for elegance as well as convenience in the form given to the stone or marble seats with which the auditorium was provided.



In the Mycenaean period, as we have seen, the art of sculpture had little existence, except for the making of small images and the decoration of small objects. We have now to take up the story of the rise of this art to an independent and commanding position, of its perfection and its subsequent decline. The beginner must not expect to find this story told with as much fulness and certainty as is possible in dealing with the art of the Renaissance or any more modern period. The impossibility of equal fulness and certainty here will become apparent when we consider what our materials for constructing a history of Greek sculpture are.

First, we have a quantity of notices, more or less relevant, in ancient Greek and Roman authors, chiefly of the time of the Roman Empire. These notices are of the most miscellaneous description. They come from writers of the most unlike tastes and the most unequal degrees of trustworthiness. They are generally very vague, leaving most that we want to know unsaid. And they have such a haphazard character that, when taken all together, they do not begin to cover the field. Nothing like all the works of the greater sculptors, let alone the lesser ones, are so much as mentioned by name in extant ancient literature.

Secondly, we have several hundreds of original inscriptions belonging to Greek works of sculpture and containing the names of the artists who made them. It was a common practice, in the case especially of independent statues in the round, for the sculptor to attach his signature, generally to the pedestal. Unfortunately, while great numbers of these inscribed pedestals have been preserved for us, it is very rarely that we have the statues which once belonged on them. Moreover, the artists’ names which we meet on the pedestals are in a large proportion of cases names not even mentioned by our literary sources. In fact, there is only one indisputable case where we possess both a statue and the pedestal belonging to it, the latter inscribed with the name of an artist known to us from literary tradition. (See pages 212-3.)

Thirdly, we have the actual remains of Greek sculpture, a constantly accumulating store, yet only an insignificant remnant of what once existed. These works have suffered sad disfigurement. Not one life-sized figure has reached us absolutely intact; but few have escaped serious mutilation. Most of those found before the beginning of this century, and some of those found since, have been subjected to a process known as “restoration.” Missing parts have been supplied, often in the most arbitrary and tasteless manner, and injured surfaces, e. g., of faces, have been polished, with irreparable damage as the result.

Again, it is important to recognize that the creations of Greek sculpture which have been preserved to us are partly original Greek works, partly copies executed in Roman times from Greek originals. Originals, and especially important originals, are scarce. The statues of gold and ivory have left not a vestige behind. Those of bronze, once numbered by thousands, went long ago, with few exceptions, into the melting-pot. Even sculptures in marble, though the material was less valuable, have been thrown into the lime-kiln or used as building stone or wantonly mutilated