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Aetion  

C. Hobey-Hamsher

(fl late 4th century bc).

Greek painter. Pliny (Natural History, XXXV.78) placed Aetion in the 107th Olympiad (352–349 bc) and (XXXV.50) included him in a list of painters who used a palette restricted to four colours: white, yellow, red and black. Cicero (Brutus xviii.70), however, listed him among those painters who used a wider palette. It is likely that the four-colour palette was a restriction adopted occasionally by many artists who, in other works, used more than four colours. None of Aetion’s work survives, but Pliny ascribed to him pictures of Dionysos, Tragedy and Comedy, Semiramis Rising from Slavery to Royal Power and an Old Woman Carrying Lamps and Attending a Bride, whose modesty was apparent. His most famous painting depicted the Wedding of Alexander the Great and Roxane, and it was perhaps painted to celebrate it (327 bc). It was described by Lucian of Samosata (Aetion iv–vi), who saw it in Italy. Lucian added that when the painting was shown at Olympia, Proxenides, one of the chief judges of the games, was so impressed by it that he gave his daughter to Aetion in marriage. Alexander the Great stood best man. The painting included erotes playing with Alexander’s armour, a motif repeated in several Roman wall paintings with reference to Mars and Hercules. Another Aetion, also assigned to the 107th Olympiad, appears in a list of bronze sculptors drawn up by Pliny (XXXIV.50); this is probably an interpolation from XXXV.78....

Article

C. Hobey-Hamsher

(fl late 5th century bc).

Greek painter. He was the son of Eudemos and came originally from Samos, but worked in Athens; none of his work survives. He was said to be self-taught. Vitruvius (On Architecture VII.praef.11) claimed that Agatharchos was the first artist to paint a stage set on wooden panels. This was for a tragedy by Aeschylus (525/4–456 bc), although it may have been a revival presented later in the 5th century bc. Vitruvius added that he wrote a commentary discussing the theoretical basis of his painted scenery and that the philosophers Demokritos (late 5th century bc) and Anaxagoras (c. 500–428 bc) followed him in exploring theories of perspective. It is unlikely that Agatharchos organized his compositions around a single vanishing point. More probably, individual objects and buildings or groups of buildings were depicted receding towards separate vanishing points. If Agatharchos’ experiments in perspective were confined to stage scenery, they would have been limited to architectural backgrounds, before which the actor moved. Aristotle (...

Article

Thorsten Opper

Source of a group of Roman and Greek works of art, in particular a group of Greek bronze sculptures and statuettes. In 1900 sponge-divers discovered the remains of an ancient shipwreck in the sea off the Greek island of Antikythera. In one of the first operations of this kind, they salvaged some its cargo. A new investigation of the wreck site took place in 1976 and succeeded in recovering many further objects, as well as (still unpublished) remains of the hull. All the finds are now in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. The ship, which must have foundered in the second quarter of the 1st century bc, carried a mixed cargo of ‘antique’ and contemporary bronze and marble statuary, as well as luxury products such as bronze furniture attachments, rare and expensive types of glass, gold ingots etc. It also contained the so-called Antikythera Mechanism, an elaborate type of astrolabe....

Article

Apelles  

Susan B. Matheson

(b Kolophon, Ionia; fl late 4th century bc–early 3rd century bc; d? Kos).

Greek painter. Ancient sources stating that he was born at Kos (Pliny XXXV.xxxvi.79) or Ephesos (Strabo: Geography XIV.i.25) apparently confused his correct place of birth (Suidas: ‘Apelles’) with cities where he was later active. According to Pliny, Apelles flourished in the 112th Olympiad (”332 bc), and his association with Philip II of Macedon implies that his career began before 336 bc. His work for Ptolemy I of Egypt suggests that it lasted until after 304 bc, when Ptolemy declared himself king. No painting by Apelles survives, however, and his works are known only from literary sources.

Apelles studied painting first under Ephoros of Ephesos, then under Pamphilos of Sikyon (Suidas). According to Plutarch (Aratos xiii), however, he was already much admired before he went to Sikyon and enrolled at the school simply to share in its reputation. This is borne out by his probable collaboration with ...

Article

C. Hobey-Hamsher

(fl last quarter of the 5th century bc).

Greek painter. Nicknamed the ‘Shadow Painter’, he is famous for his experiments with chiaroscuro, although none of his works survives. Pliny (Natural History XXXV.xxxvi.60) placed Apollodoros in the 93rd Olympiad (408–405 bc) and credited him with being the first painter to give his figures the appearance of reality and to bring true glory to the brush. Plutarch (De gloria Atheniensium II) was more specific and attributed to him the discovery of mixing colours, as well as the indication of light and shade in his work. Pliny saw Apollodoros as the precursor of Zeuxis, while Quintilian (Principles of Oratory XII.x.4) stated that the younger painter invented chiaroscuro. Among Apollodoros’ paintings were a Priest at Prayer and, still surviving at Pergamon in Pliny’s day, an Ajax Struck by Lightning. A scholiast of the comic playwright Aristophanes (Wasps, 385) attributed to Apollodoros a picture of the Daughters of Herakles and Alkmene Coming as Suppliants to the Athenians...

Article

C. Hobey-Hamsher

[Aristides]

(fl 4th century bc).

Greek painter (s) from Thebes. There appear to have been two painters named Aristeides, perhaps grandfather and grandson; none of their works survive. According to Pliny (Natural History XXX.75) an Aristeides was a pupil of Euxenidas, a contemporary of Parrhasios and Timanthes. The same author named the painter and sculptor Euphranor among his pupils (XXXV.111). This Aristeides would have flourished in the first half of the 4th century bc. Elsewhere, however, Pliny (XXXV.110) mentioned an Aristeides who was a pupil of his father Nikomachos of Thebes. He must be the Aristeides who was a contemporary of Apelles and whose style and works the author described (XXXV.98–100). This Aristeides would have worked in the second half of the 4th century bc. Pliny criticized the younger Aristeides for using colours that were a little harsh but praised him for being the first painter to depict the soul and to give expression to the affections and emotions. Many of the paintings ascribed to that Aristeides suggest the emotional quality of his work: ...

Article

Sophie Page

Astrology is the art of predicting events on earth as well as human character and disposition from the movements of the planets and fixed stars. Medieval astrology encompassed both general concepts of celestial influence, and the technical art of making predictions with horoscopes, symbolic maps of the heavens at particular moments and places constructed from astronomical information. The scientific foundations of the art were developed in ancient Greece, largely lost in early medieval Europe and recovered by the Latin West from Arabic sources in the 12th and 13th centuries. Late medieval astrological images were successfully Christianized and were adapted to particular contexts, acquired local meanings and changed over time.

Astrology developed into a scientific branch of learning in ancient Greece, but because of the opposition of the Church Fathers it was transmitted to early medieval Europe in only fragmentary form in technically unsophisticated textbooks and popular divinatory genres. Literary and scientific texts provided more general ideas about the nature and attributes of the planets which were influential on later iconography. The first significant astrological images appear in 11th-century illustrated astronomical texts (e.g. London, BL, Cotton MS. Tiberius BV), which were acquired and produced by monasteries to aid with time-keeping and the construction of the Christian calendar....

Article

C. Hobey-Hamsher

(fl later 4th century bc–early 3rd).

Greek painter from Maroneia in Thrace, none of whose work survives. The only account of Athenion is given by Pliny (Natural History XXXV.134), who said he was a pupil of Glaukion of Corinth. Some thought his work more pleasing than that of Nikias, who was thus probably a contemporary. Yet Athenion used a more severe colour scheme, an austerity that reflected the intellectual principles by which he painted. His work included Odysseus Discovering Achilles Disguised as a Girl, an Assembly of Relatives (at Athens) and, his most famous painting, a Groom with a Horse. He also painted a portrait of the cavalry commander Phylarchus for the temple at Eleusis, which seems to link him to the period of Athens’ wars against Kassander, King of Macedon (reg 310–297 bc; cf. Pausanias: Guide to Greece I.xxvi.3). Athenion died young.

K. Jex-Blake and E. Sellers: The Elder Pliny’s Chapters on the History of Art...

Article

Thorsten Opper

Roman town in Italy on the southern slope of Mt Vesuvius immediately to the north of Pompeii, sometimes identified with the ancient Pagus Augustus Felix Suburbanus (one of the town's outer districts). Excavations carried out mainly in the later 19th century brought to light some thirty villae rusticae, part of an intense network of smallholdings situated on the lower slopes of the volcano and the adjacent Sarno plain, and plentiful evidence of intense agricultural activity, principally the production of wine and olive oil. Probably due to its fertility, the area was resettled after the eruption; baths dating to the 2nd or 3rd century ad were discovered in Via Casone Grotta. Most of the villas were reburied after the excavations and documentation tends to be sparse. Finds are now mostly in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples, the Louvre in Paris and the Metropolitan Museum in New York, as well as a number of private collections; more recent discoveries are exhibited in a new local museum. The nearby Villa Regina is the only structure that can be visited; it has wine production facilities and large storage areas....

Article

C. Hobey-Hamsher

(fl late 8th century bc).

Greek painter, none of whose work survives. Boularchos is known only from two references in Pliny (Natural History VII.126, XXXV.55). King Kandaules, also called Myrsilos, of Lydia (d late 8th century bc) bought a picture of the Defeat of the Magnetes by Boularchos, paying the picture’s weight in gold. The date and circumstances of the battle are uncertain, but it is unusual that a Greek artist painted a Greek defeat. The early date assigned to Boularchos and the story of the Lydian gold cast doubt on the historicity of Pliny’s account....

Article

C. Hobey-Hamsher

(fl mid-2nd century bc).

Greek painter. He was the son of Seleukos and, although he was from Alexandria, worked in Rome; none of his work survives. He illustrates the shift of artistic patronage from the great Hellenistic cities to Rome in the 2nd century bc. Demetrios is the earliest recorded landscape painter (topographos: Diodorus Siculus: History XXXI.xviii.2). Alexandrian artists began to depict Nilotic scenes in mosaics and paintings from the 2nd century bc, and Demetrios stands at the head of that genre (see Alexandria §2, (v)). A story is told that he gave shelter at Rome to Ptolemy VI Philometor (reg c. 181–145 bc) when that king was driven from Egypt by his younger brother in 164 bc.

J. Overbeck: Die antiken Schriftquellen zur Geschichte der bildenden Künste bei den Griechen (Leipzig, 1868/R Hildesheim, 1959), nos 2141–2

Alexandria, §2(v): Hellenistic and Roman painting

Athens, §ii, 1(ii)(b): Acropolis: Non-architectural sculpture...

Article

Dimitris Plantzos

Greek city situated at the foothills of Mt Olympus in northern Greece (district of Pieria), 14 km south of modern city of Katerini. It was an important Macedonian political and cultural centre from the Classical to the Roman periods (6th century bc–4th century ad). By the 6th century bc it seems that the Macedonians were gathering at Dion in order to honour the Olympian gods, chiefly Zeus; according to myth, Deukalion, the only man to survive the flood at the beginning of time, built an altar to Zeus as a sign of his salvation. His sons, Macedon and Magnes, lived in Pieria, near Olympus, and became the mythical ancestors of the Macedonians. The altar allegedly erected by Deukalion remained the centre of the cult life at Dion throughout its history.

King Archelaos of Macedon (c. 413–399 bc) organized athletic and dramatic contests in the framework of the religious celebrations, following the practice of the Greeks in the south, such as at the great sanctuaries of Olympia and Delphi. Philip II (...

Article

Dimitris Plantzos

[Satra]

Greek city situated on the island of Crete, by the north-west foothills of mount Psiloritis (anc. Ida), 30 km south-east of the present-day city of Rethymnon. It was a centre for Aegean and Greek culture from the Prehistoric to the Byzantine periods (4th millennium bc–7th century bc).

Ancient Eleutherna is a typical example of a Cretan polis (city) inhabited continuously from at least from the 9th century bc (the so-called ‘Dark Age’ of Greek history) to the late Roman and Byzantine period (6th–7th century bc). Even before that, archaeological finds suggest the existence of a continuous presence on the site from the late Neolithic (4th millennium bc) through to a flourishing Minoan site of the 3rd to 2nd millennia bc. Although later construction all but eliminated traces of prehistoric architecture, there is still significant evidence to confirm unbroken habitation. In historical times (9th century...

Article

Eumaros  

C. Hobey-Hamsher

(fl ?late 6th century bc).

Greek painter. He is the earliest Athenian painter named in ancient literature, known from a single reference in Pliny (Natural History XXXV.56), who listed him among painters in monochrome. None of his work survives. It is unlikely, however, that early artists used only one colour, later artists many, and that a fuller palette always indicates a later date. In any case, Eumaros was not a strictly monochrome painter, because he was given credit for first distinguishing between men and women and that distinction would have been in the colour of flesh, men being darker than women. He was also said to have depicted every sort of figure, perhaps a reference to experiments in pose. Kimon further developed the advances of Eumaros, who was perhaps his master. A statue base from the Athenian Acropolis is signed Antenor son of Eumares. This may be the same man as Pliny’s Eumaros.

F. Studniczka...

Article

Olga Palagia

(b Isthmia, c. 390 bc; d ?Athens, c. 325 bc).

Greek painter and sculptor. An exact contemporary of Praxiteles, he seems to have been state artist at Athens in the mid-4th century bc, perhaps playing a role comparable to that of Pheidias a century earlier. Along with Nikias, who trained in his workshop, Euphranor was among the foremost members of the 4th-century bc Attic school of painting and was exceptional also in producing marble and bronze statues as well as marble reliefs. Pupil of the painter Aristeides the elder and teacher not only of the painters Leonidas, Antidotos and Charmantides but also of his own son, the sculptor Sostratos, Euphranor also wrote treatises on his painting (On Colours and On Proportions), which were quoted by ancient writers; none of his own paintings survive. His preoccupation with proportions was criticized, and he was considered not quite on a level with Lysippos and Apelles, since the heads of his figures were allegedly rather large for their bodies....

Article

C. Hobey-Hamsher

(fl ?late 6th century/early 5th century bc).

Greek painter. He came from Kleonai in Attica and was perhaps the pupil of Eumaros of Athens, whose technical advances he developed. However, none of his work survives. Pliny (Natural History XXXV.xxxiv.56) wrote that Kimon devised katagrapha, which Pliny defined as obliquos imagines. Both the Greek and Latin terms commonly mean profile drawings, but drawing figures in profile was certainly not an innovation at this date. Pliny added that Kimon depicted the facial features in various positions, looking backwards, upwards or downwards, so that in this context the term katagrapha may relate to foreshortening. Other advances attributed to Kimon are indicating the joints of limbs, depicting the veins and representing the folds of drapery.

J. Overbeck: Die antiken Schriftquellen zur Geschichte der bildenden Künste bei den Griechen (Leipzig, 1868/R Hildesheim, 1959), nos 377–9

Athens, §II, 1(i)(a): Acropolis: Architecture, c 600–c 450 BC

Garden, §II, 3: Ancient Greece...

Article

C. Hobey-Hamsher

Greek painter of unknown date. According to Pliny (XXXV.16), it was either Kleanthes or the otherwise unknown Philokles of Egypt who invented outline drawing. Athenagoras (xvii) gave credit to the otherwise unknown Saurios of Samos for the invention of this technique, but included Kleanthes in his list of the earliest artists (those who worked before the gods were depicted), incorrectly assuming that secular subjects were depicted before divine ones. Indeed, deities were shown in at least two of the three paintings by Kleanthes held in the Temple of Artemis Alpheiosa in the territory around Olympia (Strabo: VIII.343; Athenaeus: VIII.346b–c): the Birth of Athena and Poseidon Offering a Tunny Fish to Zeus (Zeus was in labour, perhaps with the second birth of Dionysos). The third painting was the Fall of Troy. No other painting by Kleanthes is recorded, and none of his work survives.

Pauly–Wissowa; Thieme–Becker Athenaeus: Deipnosophists Athenagoras: Intercession Concerning the Christians...

Article

Alison Stones

Legends and myths in medieval art are often symbolic rather than narrative, appearing as isolated representations on monuments and portable objects and following the tradition of Greek vase painting where individual subjects are depicted and rely on prior knowledge of the stories for recognition and understanding. World histories celebrated great heroes of the past, starting with Creation and biblical history, then the ancient and medieval world with the exploits of the Trojan heroes, Alexander the Great, King Arthur and the campaigns of Charlemagne and his nephew Roland. Northern gods such as Thor were depicted in cult statues (c. 1000; Reykjavík, N. Mus.) or through such ornamental hammers as those from north Jutland in the Copenhagen Nationalmuseum, and Freya, head of the Valkyries, was painted riding a cat on the walls of Schleswig Cathedral.

The Fall of Troy is most celebrated in the early 13th-century copy of Heinrich von Veldecke’s ...

Article

Dimitris Plantzos

A distinctively Macedonian type of monumental chamber-tomb, consisting of a built chamber roofed with a barrel-vault, sometimes also preceded by an antechamber, and covered by an earth tumulus. The type emerged some time in the 4th century bc, and was widely used in Macedonia and its sphere of influence well into the Hellenistic period (323–27 bc).

Inhumations and cremations were practised contemporaneously in Macedonia, and are often found in the same tomb; it seems that the choice was a matter of personal preference or family tradition. Cremated remains were deposited inside a chest (larnax) made of stone, metal or wood, or a metal or clay hydria (water-jug). The tombs were furnished with couches, thrones, stools, chests, tables, benches etc reproducing actual interiors. The furniture presumably had a practical as well as symbolic role as it may have been used in funerary rituals. Movable offerings were also deposited to accompany the deceased in the afterlife, offering a glimpse into a world of skilful extravagance and sophisticated luxury....

Article

C. Hobey-Hamsher

(fl later 4th century bc).

Greek painter. He was a pupil of Pamphilos, a master who was said to charge extravagant fees. Apelles was a fellow pupil, and the more famous painter conceded to Melanthios superiority in composition. Pliny (Natural History, XXXV.50) listed him among the four-colour painters who restricted their palettes to white, yellow, red and black, but it is unlikely that Melanthios used such a limited palette in all his paintings. None of his works survives. His fame rested in part on the theoretical emphasis he placed on painting. He wrote about symmetria (proportion) and, in his book On Painting, he recommended stamping a certain wilfulness of character on works of art. When Quintilian wrote that both Pamphilos and Melanthios were renowned for ratio (Principles of Oratory XII.x.6), he was no doubt referring to the intellectual aspect of their work. One of Melanthios’ most renowned paintings, a collaboration perhaps with Apelles, was a portrait of the tyrant ...