Labored in Papyrus Leaves: Perspectives on an Epigram Collection Attributed to Posidippus (P.Mil.Vogl. VIII 309)

  Acosta-Hughes, Benjamin, Elizabeth Kosmetatou, and Manuel Baumbach, eds. 2004. Labored in Papyrus Leaves: Perspectives on an Epigram Collection Attributed to Posidippus (P.Mil.Vogl. VIII 309). Hellenic Studies Series 2. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies.

14. Vision and Visibility: Art Historical Theory Paints a Portrait of New Leadership in Posidippus’ Andriantopoiika [1]

Elizabeth Kosmetatou, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

Posidippus opens his fascinating Andriantopoiika section with this dynamic manifesto (AB 62), which was most likely specifically composed to head the cluster that follows. [
3] Prevalent scholarly views on the structure and purpose of the Andriantopoiika notwithstanding, this author would rather view the group primarily as a study in a nutshell of sculptors (ἀνδριαντοποιοί), set in the context of a latter-day mini competition of technical invention in sculpture (τορευτική), and of the age-long debate on style, rather than as a gallery of statues that may even have been put together incidentally. In this context, the term kolossos is used to indicate a lifelike rather than a larger-than-life statue. [4] Indeed, in characteristically ambiguous fashion, the poet seems to have thematically presented individual sculptural works elsewhere. [5] The Andriantopoiika section seems to serve a multitude of purposes: first, it praises Lysippus, official sculptor by appointment to the Macedonian court, who held exclusive rights in producing portrait statues of Alexander the Great. [6] He was probably Posidippus’ own favorite sculptor, very likely also of the latter’s employers. [7] Next, this constellation of epigrams recasts the old debate on art historical theory, reflecting contemporary trends, as well as earlier, mainly prose, works on style and art history. This is why every vivid description of sculptures is carefully associated with specific artisans, an element which is not generally found in ordinary ecphrastic poems. [8] Last, but not least, as a poet by appointment to the Ptolemaic court, Posidippus takes part in the political and philosophical discourse of his time, in which style played a role carrying additional important implicit meanings, associated in this case with the new regime in Egypt. [9] At the end of the section, the poet has presented his case to the reader, and from his programmatic scrutiny Lysippus emerges victorious, his predecessors’ ideas lie gasping for relevance, and the work of his successors is forever doomed to play second fiddle to his own unsurpassed achievement.

The literary tradition on Daedalus’ achievement surely predates the authors who lived through the enlightenment that was the fifth century BCE and witnessed important strides in rational discourse and the development of method in historical studies. However, one may assume that the issue of accurate imitation of life preoccupied artists and spectators as much in the Archaic as in later periods, including Posidippus’. Indeed, Posidippus’ select bronzes are described as looking almost alive through the skill of both their sculptor and the great poet whose poetry brings them to life (AB 63 [ἔμψυχ]οϲ, καῖπερ χάλκεοϲ ἐὼν ὁ γέρων; AB 64 [γ]αρύ[ει] Ἰδομενεύϲ). Nevertheless, the reader is continuously reminded that these are works of art, lifelike, but not actually alive. In this respect, by stressing the lifeless material of which they are made (AB 65: πῦρ τοι ὁ χα[λκὸϲ ὁρ]ῆι,), the poet does not allow us to forget reality. The reader therefore keeps his cool and his mind ready for rational discourse. Earlier accounts on Daedalus’ statuary are more fanciful: Aristophanes says that the legendary sculptor’s works were reputed to be chained to prevent them from actually walking away. [20] In this respect, these daedalic sculptures were not far removed from the Homeric tripods-automata that served Hephaestus, and whose soon to be added highly decorated handles are interestingly described as δαιδάλεα. [21]

Although art historians in Posidippus’ time mainly wrote in prose, the poet felt at home in his chosen medium. Indeed the origins of ecphrasis in the context of rational discourse are found in the ancient dramatists as an integral part of the spectacle that is theater. Scholars have drawn attention to an important fragment of Aeschylus’ satyr play entitled Theoroi or Isthmiastai (Spectators at the Isthmian Games) [22] that probably belonged to its parodos. [23] The satyrs are carrying masks in the form of images of themselves destined to be hung as votive offerings on the façade of the temple of Poseidon Isthmius. They take the opportunity to comment on their portraits whose unnamed artist captured his subjects so remarkably well that they look alive (Fr. 1, col. I, lines 5-7, 11–17). An allusion to Daedalus’ lifelike works is made:

Skinner and Gutzwiller have already taken note of the striking similarities between this passage in Aeschylus and an epigram by Erinna on the portrait of the maiden Agatharchis (3 GP):

Ἐξ ἀταλῶν χειρῶν τάδε γράμματα, λῶιστε Προμαθεῦ,
ἐντὶ καὶ ἄνθρωποι τὶν ὁμαλοὶ σοφίαν.
ταύταν γοῦν ἐτύμως τὰν παρθένον ὅστις ἔγραψεν,
αἰ καὐδὰν ποτέθηκ᾿, ἦς κ᾿ Ἀγαθαρχὶς ὅλα.

Delicate hands produced this painting, most excellent Prometheus,
indeed humans can have as much wisdom as you.
Had he but given her a voice, whoe’er it was that painted the maiden
so accurately, this would have been Agatharchis in everything.

Let us dwell on Aeschylus for a little longer: Zeitlin has brilliantly interpreted the satyrs and their masks in Theoroi as the scene of a paradigmatic encounter between the two representational modes of theater and its contemporary arts. [30] In this context, theater with its conventions as a framed space, defined by spatial and mental horizons, made use of figurative arts, mainly architecture and painting (skenographia), therefore becoming the ideal forum where artistic advances could be presented to their best advantage. Indeed, it was at the time that Aeschylus staged his Theoroi that important developments took place in perspective, coloration, and the pictorial space. These were applied in contemporary scene-painting, an invention of the painter Agatharchus especially for Aeschylus’ plays. Agatharchus is also credited with authorship of a treatise on perspective, and his interest in optical phenomena was shared by his contemporary philosophers Anaxagoras and Democritus in their respective works. [31] Euripides, himself reputed to have also been a remarkable painter, went further than his predecessors in using ecphrasis, both symbolically and, most importantly, in his exploration of vision and the interplay between illusion and reality. [32] As the Athenians viewed it, theater was a place of education in the democratic polity functioning as bridge between the élite and popular culture. Its importance in forming spectators’ minds and challenging them to take part in the political debate of the day has been discussed, of course, at great length. [33] At the same time, it also acquainted the same public with the current art-historical debate going on in the highest circles of the élite and drew spectators in to experience visual art by provoking impassioned responses to it. True enough, spectators were not expected to feel as tourists, focusing on the poet’s display of art, as images were subordinate to the action and functioned as symbols, rather than having their own life. [34] However, by drawing attention to the achievement of the dramatist’s artist-collaborators, playwrights also aimed at bringing the world that had been there all along to the attention of that same public: to ambush them with the passions and dreams of the artist and invite them to look at that same world through the eyes of another.

By opting for ecphrastic epigram, epigrammatists from the middle of the fourth century BCE onwards entered a territory that had been previously occupied by art historical treatises written by the artists themselves and by tragic poets. Indeed, the tragic stage constituted an ideal forum, as it was partly defined by the dialectical relationship between the visible and invisible which transcended to the epistemological discourse of the time on insight, knowledge, revelation, and truth. The reciprocal influence between the visual and dramatic arts with regard to the debate on the sources of knowledge and double perspective was a frequent theme in plays, and it found its best expression in tragic irony. [35] Hellenistic epigram took ecphrasis one step further: although this genre is set in a purely mental framework, the poet’s vision invites the reader to experience art and what is no longer visible with the eyes of his/her imagination. The epigram form was an ideal host to this interaction; by challenging the reader’s erudition, it invited audiences at the same time to participate in what Bing described as Ergänzungsspiel, or process of supplementation. [36] Hellenistic poets exploited the transition of epigram from stone to book by further severing it from its context: they offered part of the wider picture, which the reader was intrigued to reconstruct based on the few clues, hints, and allusions that were provided. As is obvious from the new Milan epigrams, Posidippus became a master in this art, and his Andriantopoiika provide significant information to allow audiences to construct multiple contexts. [37]

The Andriantopoiika certainly provide a valuable account on art history in the Hellenistic age, echoing the earlier debate as well. However, as I will argue, Posidippus’ musings on sculptors are not incidental but rather programmatic, and they also fit in with this poet’s service in the court of the Ptolemies, where he promoted their own vision of a different kind of world, successor to Alexander’s. [38] Art certainly played an important role in Ptolemaic self-definition, but the contribution of the Alexandrian scholars in contemporary art-historical debate also aimed at rationalizing Ptolemaic royal positions and further influencing their audiences by settling meanings. Art has always formed an integral part in the process of arguing the merits of a political leader because it conceptualizes and reflects on the outcome of policies. In such a context art does not only use visual but also political language in order to construct, reconstruct, and rationalize the courses of action of leadership. [39] It is naturally difficult for artists, especially those that are employed in the service of the powers that be, to override these barriers, and reactionaries are a very rare phenomenon. However, exceptional talent and powerful arguments in support of political decisions and against constructed enemies can produce classics of enduring influence. Indeed, classic works of art have the ability to maneuver audiences into particular ways of seeing and understanding realities that can be reconstructed by future generations of leaders into acquiring new meanings appropriate for the times.

In his retrospective on ancient and modern sculptors Posidippus sketches then a brave new world ruled by the Ptolemies, the presumed lawful successors of Alexander. At the same time, by contributing to the process of legitimization of the Ptolemies, the poet promotes his own art as well by seeking his own share in the advertised novelty. It is no coincidence that Lysippus, the Macedonian conqueror’s favorite sculptor, happens to be the honoree of the section. His juxtaposition to earlier and contemporary sculptors and the emphasis that the poet places on his novelties (παλαιοτέχνηϲ vs. νεάρ᾿) shapes the readers’ beliefs in a constructed whole new world, which is a fundamental element in every new regime seeking legitimacy. Indeed, even though Lysippus is pronounced to be the greatest of all sculptors, AB 63 praises Hecataeus’ portrait of Philadelphus’ mentor, Philitas, sponsored by the king for his newly constructed Mouseion. [40] The poet was a popular subject in Hellenistic poetry, and Posidippus’ text is reproduced below and includes Scodel’s excellent reading: [41]

τ̣όνδε Φιλίται χ̣[αλ]κ̣ὸν̣ [ἴ]ϲ̣ο̣ν̣ κα̣τὰ πάν<θ>᾿{α} Ἑκ̣[α]τ̣αῖοϲ
     ἀ]κ̣[ρ]ι̣βὴϲ ἄκρουϲ̣ [ἔπλ]α̣ϲ̣ε̣ν εἰϲ ὄνυχαϲ,
καὶ με]γ̣έθει κα̣[ὶ ϲα]ρ̣κ̣ὶ τὸν ἀνθρωπιϲτὶ διώξαϲ
     γνώμο]ν᾿, ἀφ᾿ ἡρώων δ᾿ οὐδ̣ὲν ἔμε̣ιξ᾿{ε} ἰδέηϲ,
ἀ̣λλὰ τὸν ὰκρομέριμν̣ον ὅλ̣[ηι κ]α̣τεμάξατο τέχ̣νηι
     πρ]έ̣ϲβυν, ἀληθείηϲ ὀρ̣θὸν̣ [ἔχων] κ̣ανόνα·
αὐδήϲ]οντι δ᾿ ἔοικε̣ν̣, ὅϲωι πο̣ικ̣ί̣λ̣λεται ἤθει,
     ἔμψυχ]ο̣ϲ, καίπερ χάλκεοϲ ἐὼν ὁ γέρων·
ἐκ Πτολε]μ̣αίου δ᾿ ὧδε θ̣εοῦ θ᾿ ἅμα καὶ βαϲιλ<ῆ>οϲ
     ἄγκειμ]α̣ι Μουϲέ{ι}ων εἵνεκα Κῶιοϲ ἀνήρ.

This bronze, like Philitas, Hecataeus in all respects
     moulded, accurately, even down to the finger tips,
both in size and form aiming for human standard,
     he added in no heroic element;
but with all his skill fashioned the old man,
     realistically, with the right measure of truth.
Like one about to speak, with such nature embellished,
     the old man is as though alive, yet made of bronze.
“By order of Ptole]my, at once god and king,
     am I vowed] for the Muses, a Coan man.”

While on the subject of lifelike bronzes, Posidippus presents one more example of a successful bronze in retrospect, thereby defining a long trajectory of sculptors leading to Lysippus. In this case the reader is presented with a statue of the Homeric hero Idomeneus made by the late-fifth-century BCE sculptor Cresilas (AB 64):

αἴ]ν̣ε̣έ γ᾿ {ε} Ἰδομεν<ῆ>α θέλων χάλκειον ἐκ̣ε̣ῖ̣ν[ον
     Κ̣ρηϲίλ<α>· ὡϲ ἄκρωϲ ἠργάϲατ᾿ εἴδομεν εὖ
γ]α̣ρ̣ύ̣[ει] Ἰδομενεύϲ· ῾ἀλ̣[λ᾿] ὦ̣ ᾿γα̣θ̣ὲ̣ Μ̣ηριόνα, θ̣εῖ,
     ] πλάϲται δ̣ὰ̣ν [ἀδό]ν̣η̣τοϲ ἐών᾿.

Praise willingly that bronze Idomeneus
     by Cresilas. How perfectly he worked, we see.
Idomeneus cries: “good Meriones, run
     … … ] molded being immobile for too long.

In AB 64 the poet urges his readers to applaud Cresilas’ achievement with the same vigorous expressions he uses in his manifesto: continuous usage of imperatives (AB 62: μιμ̣[ή]ϲαϲθε, π̣αραθεῖτε, AB 63: αἴ]ν̣ε̣έ γ᾿), superlatives, and antithesis between the stillness of an object and its inherent movement that its lifelike appearance renders (γ]α̣ρ̣ύ̣[ει], θ̣εῖ vs. [ἀδό]ν̣η̣τοϲ). Cresilas of AB 64 is portrayed then as a worthy predecessor of Hecataeus and by extension of Lysippus as well. His work is as lifelike as Hecataeus’ which is due in both cases to the perfection of the two artists’ workmanship (AB 63: ἀ]κ̣[ρ]ι̣β̣ὴϲ ἄκρουϲ̣, ἀκρομέριμν̣ον; AB 64: ἄκρωϲ). As in AB 63, the hero looks so lifelike that the poet puts actual words in his mouth.

The energy and vigor oozing from this first cluster of four epigrams culminate in AB 65 in praise of Lysippus’ portrait of Alexander:

[Λύϲιππε,] πλάϲτα Ϲικυώ̣[νιε, θαρϲ]α̣λέα χείρ̣,
δάϊε τεχνί]τα, πῦρ τοι ὁ χα[λκὸϲ ὁρ]ῆι,
ὅν κατ᾿ Ἀλεξά]νδρου μορφᾶϲ ἔθε̣υ̣· οὔ τί γε μεμπτοί
Πέρϲαι· ϲυγγνώ]μα βουϲὶ λέοντα φυγεῖν.

Lysippus, sculptor of Sicyon, daring hand,
cunning craftsman, the bronze has a look of fire
in which you set Alexander’s form; in no way at fault
are the Persians; cattle are forgiven for fleeing a lion.

At the same time, the theme of the concentration of all life in the eyes of a sculpture is present in AB 95 from the Iamatika [51] and perhaps in AB 64, the Cresilas epigram as well. Indeed, in his praise for Cresilas’ statue of a man succumbing to his wounds, Pliny, undoubtedly drawing upon an earlier author, comments on how the viewer could barely discern whatever life was left in the figure’s expression. [52] This may have been then a remarkable characteristic of Cresilas’ art that particularly spoke to Posidippus’ heart, and his allusion to it in connection with various sculptors may reflect another passage from Aeschylus. In his Agamemnon (v. 415–419) the tragic poet mentions statues (κολοσσοὶ εὔμορφοι) that stood in the palace of Menelaeus. Following Helen’s seduction by Paris and upon his return to Sparta, Menelaeus gazed at these statues which he thought had an “empty look” (ὀμμάτων δ᾿ ἐν ἀχηνίαις | ἔρρει πᾶσ᾿ Ἀφροδίτα), being deprived of magic and lifelike appearance as his wife was no longer there. [53] AB 62 advises sculptors to prefer lifelike bronzes (πολυχρονίουϲ̣ δὲ κολοϲϲῶν, | ὦ ζ̣[ωι]ο̣πλάϲται, ν̣[αί,] π̣αραθεῖτε νόμουϲ), and in AB 63 he praises Hecataeus’ preference for the human over heroic standard, even in the depiction of heroized mortals like Philitas. The qualities of heroes are then visible in humans as long as sculptors can convey all their fervor and passion in their eyes, as happens in the presumably lifelike statue of Alexander in AB 65.

The ninth book of the Greek Anthology includes no fewer than thirty-six epigrams dedicated to this apparently formidable sculpture that was reportedly set up on the Athenian Acropolis (IX 713–742, 793–798). [56] They are attributed to famous epigrammatists like Anacreon (IX 715–716), Leonidas of Tarentum (IX 719), and Dioscorides (IX 734), and the sculpture’s lifelike, deceiving appearance is a common theme in most of these. Clustered together they also give the impression of a series of comments, commonly expressed by passers-by. Praises of Myron’s cow can be divided into two groups: the first one comprises epigrams that seemingly deceitfully invite the reader to believe that the animal is real or was once alive, having been later turned miraculously into bronze (IX 713–714, 716, 719–720, 721a, 722–723, 725, 732). The second group, with which we can associate Posidippus’ AB 66, includes poems that draw the readers’ attention to the deceiving, lifelike appearance of the sculpture, at the same time stressing the fact that it is lifeless (IX 715, 717–718, 721, 724, 726–731, 733–742). Among these is an interesting sub-group alluding to parallels between Myron’s extraordinary skills and the legendary abilities of Prometheus to mold real human beings by breathing life into them (IX 717, 724, 726–727, 729, 736–737). Interestingly, some of these epigrams represent the “voice” of the cow (IX 713, 719–720, 723, 729, 731–732, 742), a technique that Posidippus also used in AB 63 and 64 in order to underline the realism with which his favorite artists worked.

Myron was probably highly esteemed by Posidippus for both his artistic and technical achievements, especially in smaller-sized works because he figures in AB 68 and 69. AB 68 constitutes an anecdotal account and serves as comparison between Myron and Posidippus’ contemporary Chares of Lindus, a student of Lysippus, the creator of the Rhodian Colossus:

ἤθελον Ἠ̣έ̣λι̣ο̣ν̣ Ῥ̣ό̣διο̣ι̣ π̣[εριμάκε]α θ̣ε̣ῖν̣αι̣
     δὶϲ τόϲ̣ον, ἀ̣λλ̣ὰ Χάρηϲ Λί̣ν̣διο̣[ϲ] ὡ̣ρίϲ̣ατο
μ̣ηθέ̣να̣ τεχνίταν ἔ<τ>ι μείζ̣ο̣να̣ {τ]ο̣ῦ̣δ̣ε̣ κ̣[ο]λ̣οϲϲό̣ν
     θήϲειν̣· εἰ δὲ Μύ̣ρ̣ων εἰϲ τετρ̣ά̣π̣[ηχ]υ̣ν̣ ὅ̣[ρον
ϲεμ̣νὸϲ ἐ̣κεῖνοϲ̣ ἀ̣ν̣ῆ̣κ̣ε̣, Χάρηϲ π̣ρ̣ῶ̣[τοϲ μ]ε̣τ̣ὰ τέχνα[ϲ
     ζ̣ῶ̣<ι>ο̣ν ἐχ̣αλ̣κούργε̣ι̣ γ̣ᾶϲ̣ μεγ̣[……].[..]ν̣.

The Rhodians wanted to set up a Helios so very tall
     twice as much, but the Lindian Chares made sure
that no artisan would ever create a larger colossus
     than this; if that venerable Myron reached
the limit of four cubits, Chares was the first with his craft
     to make a statue in bronze [comparable in size ?] with the earth.

As is obvious from AB 62, innovation in technique was also a subject that interested Posidippus, a subject that is brought back in his retrospective of the sculptor Theodorus in AB 67. Dealing with a favorite subject of Posidippus statuary commemorating victories in the chariot-races, on which more is said in the Hippika, the poet praises the sculptor’s superior abilities in the workmanship of detail:

±14        ]..[..]. ἄντυγοϲ ἐ<γ>γύθεν ἄθρει
     τῆϲ Θεοδω̣ρεί̣η̣ϲ̣ χ̣ειρὸϲ ὅϲοϲ κάματο̣ϲ·
ὄψει γὰρ ζυ̣γ̣ό̣δεϲ̣μα καὶ ἠνία καὶ τροχὸν ἵππων
     ἄξονά <θ>᾿ [{ε} ἡνιό]χ̣ου τ̣᾿ ὄ̣μμ̣α̣ κα̣ὶ ἄκρα χερῶ̣ν̣·
ὄψει δ᾿ εὖ [          ±12        ]…ε̣ο̣ς̣, ἀ̣λ̣λ̣᾿ ἐπ̣ὶ τ̣ῶ̣ιδ̣ε
     ἑ̣ζομέν[ην          ±15          ] μ̣υ̣ῖ̣αν ἴδοιϲ.

… … … ] of the rail, observe from close
     with what great care the hand of Theodorus;
for you will see the yoke, and reins, and ring of the horses’ bit,
     and axle, and the charioteer’s eye, and fingertips;
and you will see well [ … … … ] , but upon it
     sitti[ng … … … ] you could see a fly.

Pliny discusses Theodorus of Samos, after Boutades and Rhoecus, just before reporting on Duris’ discussion of Lysippus. Theodorus had been a great metal-worker, sculptor, and engineer of the Archaic period. Following the tradition of Boutades and Rhoecus he was a great innovator in the clay-modeling that was necessary for the production of bronze statues. Posidippus’ interest in him is multifold: Theodorus (second half of sixth century BCE) stands behind Lysippus in the evolution chain leading to the splendors that were the Sicyonian’s works. The Samian sculptor is credited with inventions that eventually led to Lysippus’ technical experiments and innovations in the casting of bronze alluded to in AB 62. [65] Like Myron he had been an artisan with multiple interests, being credited with the construction of enormous metal vessels, [66] a marvelous gold vine which he made for the Persian king Darius I, [67] and of the so-called Labyrinth, as the temple of Hera of Samos was known. [68] At the same time, his attention to detail and his work in miniature, another favorite of Posidippus judging from his Lithika, was legendary. He was supposed to have carved Polycrates’ legendary ring [69] which Posidippus praises in another tantalizingly fragmentary epigram from the Milan papyrus (AB 9). AB 67 focuses on Theodorus’ miniature workmanship related to the self-portrait that he set up at the Labyrinth of Samos. It concentrates on the chariot and charioteer that, according to Pliny (XXXIV 83) stood on the three fingers of the sculptor’s left hand, and could be covered by the wings of a fly that may have stood on one of his remaining fingers, functioning perhaps as a measure for comparison. [70]

Sadly, AB 70, which wraps up the Andriantopoiika, is hopelessly fragmentary, but it probably featured a final comparison of Polyclitus and Lysippus, from which the Sicyonian emerged victorious even though the achievement of the former sculptor could not be denied:

καὶ τὰ Πολυκ̣[λείτου      ±12        ] π̣άν̣τ̣ω̣ν̣
          ϲάρκ̣ινα̣ καὶ θ̣. [                ±18              ]α̣ι
πάντ᾽ ἐπ᾽ Ἀλεξά̣[νδρου             ±14         χ]ε̣ιρῶν
          τῶν Λυϲιππε̣[ίων                ±19            ]ϲ̣.

Also Polyc[litus’ [ … … ] of all
     fleshy and [ … … …
all on Alexa[nder’s … … … ] of the hands
     of Lysippus … [ … … …

The above inquiry does not only concern the structure of the Andriantopoiika section of the Milan papyrus; it rather defines the framework for an art-historical model that Posidippus drew from one of his contemporary art-historians. Consequently, we readers are not only invited to “view” what the poet makes “visible” to our imagination through his vivid descriptions. We are also led to discover the principles on which Posidippus’ unnamed sources established the Canon, in this case the rule and trajectory, of perfection in sculpture. This Canon comprises then the artists Theodorus, Myron, Cresilas, Lysippus, Chares, and Hecataeus, whose achievements have been examined in the section against their contemporaries and predecessors, some of whom were rejected. The first four masters were renowned for their technical achievement and their realism, which appealed to the emotions of the viewer. Of course, it is unclear whether these four constituted a Canon to which Posidippus added his two contemporary sculptors, Chares and Hecataeus, in accordance with the tastes of the new leadership in Egypt that set the style. At any rate, even though the attribution of the ideas behind the Andriantopoiika must be conjectural, an overview of Posidippus’ contemporary trends is in order.

The next candidate is Xenocrates of Athens, a sculptor who lived in the first half of the third century BCE and also wrote treatises on sculpture and painting. [72] He was reportedly a disciple of the sculptor Tesicrates or Euthycrates and seems to have had connections with the Pergamene court, judging from the discovery of a base bearing his signature on the citadel. [73] This is hardly surprising given the fact that the Attalid rulers were especially fond of Athens and Atticism and had associated themselves mainly with the Academy and, less so, with the Peripatos. [74] Xenocrates’ ideas can be partially reconstructed on the basis of fragments and testimonia that have survived in the ancient sources. He may have defined his own tradition of sculptors as characterized by rhythm and symmetry, tracing its roots to the philosopher Pythagoras who was reputed by legend to have also been a sculptor. His association with the Pergamene court might also be deduced by the fact that Pliny discusses Pergamene art immediately after a passage that is most likely based on the Athenian sculptor and art historian. [75] Xenocrates’ work was largely a chronological exploration of Greek sculpture whose Canon featured an artistic evolution towards naturalism as defined by Pythagoras, Myron, Pheidias, Polyclitus, and Lysippus. [76] In the opinion of this author, Xenocrates then cannot be the mastermind behind the Andriantopoiika: his proposed Canon differs significantly from Posidippus’ who, moreover, beyond his apparent disregard for Atticism, appears to be critical of Polyclitus (AB 62 and AB 70). This critical view may also be reflected in Pliny XXIV 58, according to which Myron was “more prolific in his art and more careful in his proportions,” despite Polyclitus’ celebrated care for symmetry which was widely publicized, in part thanks to his own treaty entitled Canon. Last, but not least, scholars in Hellenistic courts promoted the propaganda of their employers, and it would be surprising if a Pergamene scholar set the style in Ptolemaic Egypt. [77]

To which author does Posidippus then nod in his display of the splendor of Lysippus’ work? There is little doubt that the Pellaean poet had read the famous writings of his contemporary popular historian and philosopher Duris of Samos (ca. 340–260 BCE) who belonged to the Peripatetic school, and who also wrote on art history. Duris was about one generation older than Posidippus, his ideas had been widely established, and he was much admired by the epigrammatist’s contemporaries. He came from a very prominent family: both his father and himself were tyrants of Samos before it passed under Macedonian, Thracian, possibly Seleucid, and eventually Ptolemaic domination (by 279 BCE). [78] He claimed descent from the notorious and fascinating Alcibiades, owing his existence to one of the Athenian politician’s numerous flings on the island in ca. 411 BCE. [79] Duris reportedly had a flair for high drama, loved to trigger the emotional response of his readers, and was one the representatives of “tragic historiography,” aiming at emotional responses on the part of his readers, a trend that was criticized in antiquity, especially by Polybius. [80] A highly educated scholar, unusually versatile in many fields, he had written a History of Macedonia (which covered Alexander’s conquests) and had also shown Egyptian interests, having written on the pyramids. [81] Interestingly, Duris also shared Posidippus’ fascination with Panhellenic festivals and is credited with several works on ancient games and their victors. [82] Last, but not least, being a Peripatetic he fitted perfectly with the traditions of the Museum. [83]

Despite the anecdotal character of the above quoted passage a study of the Samian’s oeuvre makes it obvious that we cannot associate Duris’ art-historical work mainly with anecdotes, preferring to link discussions in Pliny on technique exclusively with Xenocrates.

The similarities between Duris and Posidippus’ first two Andriantopoiika are striking. The opening epigram denounces the rigid works of Archaic sculptors in favor of, presumably, more natural forms, forming a valid deductive argument consisting of a series of true premises and a logical conclusion: a) rigidity is to be avoided in favor of natural representation; b) colossal statues are undesirable; c) in this respect Lysippus is the sculptor whom all young artisans are urged to take for a model, d) the καινοτέχνης Hecataeus followed the rules of truth (AB 63: ἀληθείηϲ ὀρθὸν [ἔχων] κανόνα) and used the human standard (καὶ με]γέθει κα[ὶ ϲα]ρκὶ τὸν ἀνθρωπιϲτὶ διώξαϲ γνώμο]ν᾿, ἀφ᾿ ἡρώων δ᾿ οὐδὲν ἔμειξ᾿{ε} ἰδέηϲ,) in molding Philitas’ portrait. It follows then that Hecataeus is a worthy successor of Lysippus, and the two artists shared common characteristics. The Sicyonian’s realism is further alluded to in a description of the work of Philadelphus’ sculptor. AB 62 also mentions Lysippus’ innovations (νεάρ᾿), which probably echo other parts of Duris’ discussion of the Sicyonian sculptor. Born to a family that owned a foundry, and following in the footsteps of his founder brother Lysistratus, Lysippus is credited with important technical innovations in the field of portraiture that formed the pathway to achieving realism more directly than before. Mattusch has plausibly argued that Lysippus’ experiments led him to develop a way to substitute for the artist’s original model one that could be taken directly from an individual’s face, thus molding “from nature.” This idea may very well have come following a conversation with his compatriot Eupompus and led to higher quality and quantity of portraits. [90]

The above-discussed passage from Pliny may be drawing upon Duris and belongs to a longer discussion on modeling that is organized chronologically. Since it forms an integral part with it and seems to be comparing Lysippus’ innovations with those of his predecessors, one may plausibly attribute the whole to Duris’ lost work on sculpture. Lysippus and his brother were then pioneers in casting, but before them, came the three innovators in clay modeling: Boutades, Rhoecus, and Theodorus, the last of whom is the subject of Posidippus’ AB 67. We may therefore conclude that the Andriantopoiika is probably a free adaptation of Duris presenting to readers his Canon, complete with commentary in a nutshell.

Even though Duris’ art historical work is hard to reconstruct from Pliny alone, substantial fragments of his History of Macedonia allow us to reconstruct his ideas. His preference for “tragic historiography” that induced strong emotional responses in his readers fits with the passion found in Lysippus’ sculptures in the Andriantopoiika, which comes a long way in the evolution chain that starts with his illustrious predecessors. It also ties well with Posidippus’ impassioned advice to sculptors to follow Lysippus’ lead, which may reflect in part the Samian historian’s own comments. We know that the issue of mimesis occupied Duris in his historical works where he muses about historical reality in a plaidoyer against his predecessor historians Ephorus and Theopompus. [93] In his opinion truth in historiography can be understood as mimesis that is as close to reality as possible, even though it must remain mimesis rather than be transformed into reality itself. Interestingly, in his search for truth in historiography, Duris compared his concept of mimesis with “lifelike painting,” an idea that is also found in his discussion of Lysippus and his encounter with Eupompus, which led to an interesting definition of how an artist can copy nature. [94] Finally, Duris’ criticism of Ephorus and Theopompus fascination with the beauty of writing style, rather than truth, echoes Pliny’s juxtaposition of Lysistratus and Lysippus’ works on the one hand and of their predecessors on the other who were mostly interested in beauty in sculpture. [95]


[ back ] 1. I owe a great debt to the generosity of Professor Guido Schepens of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, director of the Fragmente der griechischen Historiker project, who put Felix Jacoby’s Nachlaß, in particular his notes on ancient Kunstgeschichte, at my disposal. Ruth Scodel graciously provided me with a copy of the forthcoming publication of her brilliant restoration of AB 63. Benjamin Acosta-Hughes, Manuel Baumbach, Jan Bollansée, Gloria Ferrari-Pinney, Hans Hauben, and Nassos Papalexandrou should be gratefully acknowledged for offering comments on this paper. As ever, I assume responsibility for all errors and flaws. All translations of the Andriantopoiika are by B. Acosta-Hughes and E. Kosmetatou.

[ back ] 2. Agreeing with Austin’s attractive restoration; cf. AB 62.8. The papyrus has πετεσηι.

[ back ] 3. Cf. Gutzwiller (this volume). The programmatic nature of the opening epigram in the Andriantopoiika is similar to the first of the Hippika, which evokes the vivid image of a crowned victor, followed by an in medias res of sorts in the epigrams that follow relating races in detail. Cf. Kosmetatou on Hippika (this volume).

[ back ] 4. See Kosmetatou-Papalexandrou 2003 (forthcoming) where previous bibliography is cited. On various proposals on the structure of the Andriantopoiika, see Gutzwiller (this volume); Gutzwiller 2002c. Without rejecting the possibility that the epigrams comprising the Andriantopoiika may have been composed for this collection, Sens 2002:9 also considers A. Cameron’s view, expressed during a panel discussion at the APA meeting in Phiadelphia (2002) that each epigram be viewed as a potential independent entity, as well as part of the group. In the opinion of this author, the epigrams included in the Andriantopoiika belong to a different category than most ecphrastic poems that praise objects by simply describing them. In such cases emphasis is placed on the work of art itself, rather than its sculptor, whose name is not supplied most of the time. Their internal links suggest, again according to this author, that they were exclusively composed for this, or perhaps a longer, section on ancient andriantopoioi reflecting specific art-historical theories of the time. Cf. Gutzwiller 2002:88 on Erinna 3 GP, its antecedents and successors.

[ back ] 5. Several of the Hippika can also be interpreted as references to statues and statuary groups that recall harnessed victories. They certainly reflect monuments that may have constituted a source of inspiration for Posidippus, additional to his actual attendance in athletic events. See articles by Kosmetatouon on Hippika, Papalexandrou, and Hoffman (this volume). Lefkowitz 2002 also makes a case for the reflection of funerary statuary in AB 56 of the Epitymbia. Contrast Dignas (this volume). AB 95, the first of the Iamatika certainly refers to the dedication of a statue. Cf. Bing (this volume); Bing 2002b.

[ back ] 6. Plutarch Moralia 335A–B. On Lysippus, see Edwards 1996.

[ back ] 7. Cf. Kosmetatou (this volume). Posidippus composed several epigrams in praise of Lysippus: AB 62, 65, 70, 142 (=19 GP, not part of the Milan papyrus).

[ back ] 8. Most ecphrastic epigrams contain elaborate descriptions of sculptures, but very few in conjunction to the specific style associated with certain sculptors. Cf. Posidippus, AB 142 (on Lysippus); APl. 54 (on Myron); 60 (Simonides on Scopas); 81 (Philip on Phidias); 84 (on Cimon), 120 (Asclepiades or Archelaus on Lysippus), 275 (Posidippus on Lysippus), etc.

[ back ] 9. Cf. Edelman 1995:24.

[ back ] 10. Pliny XXXIV 52. Cf. Preisshofen 1979; Isager 1991:97–98.

[ back ] 11. Following the thoughtful interpretation of Connor 1987:50. Cf. Gray 1987:467–486; Childs 1994:38.

[ back ] 12. For the most important deconstructionist view on the truth in art, see Derrida 1987. Cf. also Stewart (forthcoming).

[ back ] 13. Ramachandran-Hirstein 1999:15–51; Harth 1999:105, 113–114.

[ back ] 14. Kant 1960/1764. Cf. Gadamer 19892:42–60.

[ back ] 15. Cf. Brown 1999:158–160.

[ back ] 16. A group of articles on art and its perception by humans was instigated by the essay by Ramachandran and Hirstein 1999, and was published in three consecutive issues of the Journal of Consciousness Studies. The achievement of this critically acclaimed interdisciplinary dialogue is of paramount importance as it brought together scholars from seemingly distant and even unusual disciplines, including neuroscientists, neurologists, neurobiologists, neuropsychologists, physiologists, psychologists, physicists, philosophers, art historians, computer scientists, and artists. Cf. Goguen 1999, Goguen 2000, Ramachandran and Freeman 2001. On ancient ideas on the role of art in society, see Andronikos 1986:23-108; Childs 1994:39–40.

[ back ] 17. Janko 1986:37–42; Becker 1995; Snodgrass 1998:especially 40–66.

[ back ] 18. Philipp 1968; Donohue 1988:179–194 where testimonia are cited; Morris 1995:2. Information on the ancient perception of Daedalus is furnished by a wealth of sources including: Aristophanes, fr. 194 Kock = Hesychius, s.v. Daidaleia; Plato Euthyphro 11b–e; Aristotle De Anima I 3.406b; Diodorus IX 76.1–3; Lexeis Rhetorikai X; Philostratus VA VI 4.

[ back ] 19. Donohue 1988:177–194.

[ back ] 20. Aristophanes, fr 194 Kock = Hesychius, s.v. Daidaleia.

[ back ] 21. Homer Iliad XVIII 373–379; Becker 1995. Papalexandrou 2003 argues that Homer does not insinuate that the unfinished state of the tripods does not allow them to move, but that he would rather refrain on purpose from presenting his audience with an ecphrasis of visual elements in order to promote the ideology of the visual decoration on Achilles’ shield.

[ back ] 22. For the various meanings of the term theoros, see Rutherford 2000.

[ back ] 23. P.Oxy. 2162; fr. 78a Radt.

[ back ] 24. The text is corrupt here. Cf. Lobel, Roberts, Wegener 1941:21.

[ back ] 25. Skinner 2001:207–208; Gutzwiller 2002:88–91.

[ back ] 26. Acosta-Hughes 2002:265–303.

[ back ] 27. Cf. important new reading on AB 63 by Scodel 2003.

[ back ] 28. On Hellenistic epigram as a miniature perfection, see Schur (this volume).

[ back ] 29. See articles by Kosmetatou, Papalexandrou, and Hoffman (this volume).

[ back ] 30. Zeitlin 1994.

[ back ] 31. Zeitlin 1994:139–140. Cf. Vitruvius De architectura VII pref. 11; Demosthenes Ad Meidiam 147; schol. ad loc.; Pseudo-Andocides Ad Alcibiadem 17; Plutarch Alcibiades 16; Diogenes Laertius Vit. Dem. IX 46, IX 48; Simon 1988. Democritus wrote two treatises that touched on art entitled On Colors and On Painting.

[ back ] 32. On reports on Euripides’ parallel career as a painter, see Satyrus Lives in P.Oxy. 1176 (= Pack 14560 = P.Lit.Lond. 2070); Arrighetti 1964. Cf. Zeitlin 142–147.

[ back ] 33. Cf. Euben 1990.

[ back ] 34. The same can be said about Euripides’ famous passage from Ion 184–231, offering a tour of the sanctuary of Delphi. See also Zeitlin 1994:147–156; Childs 1994:36.

[ back ] 35. Seale 1982:20–21; Zeitlin 1994:140–142. Cf. Sophocles Oedipus Rex 300–305, 380–428.

[ back ] 36. Bing 1995.

[ back ] 37. This brilliant use of Ergänzungsspiel is also found in his ‘old’ epigrams. Cf. AB 131 (21 GP).

[ back ] 38. For more on the role of Alexander the Great in Ptolemaic dynastic propaganda, see Kosmetatou on Hippika (this volume).

[ back ] 39. Edelman 1995:38.

[ back ] 40. Cf. a fragment by Hermesianax of Colophon (Powell fr. 7.75–78) mentioning a statue of Philitas on Cos, represented much in the same manner as the commemorative statue that Posidippus wished his native Pella to set up in his own honor after his death. Cf. Posidippus AB 118.15–18 (= SH 705); Angiò 2002. Hardie 1997:56–62 suggested that Philitas received heroic honors at his death, and his statue mentioned by Hermesianax was set up at a sacred plane grove dedicated to the Muses.

[ back ] 41. Scodel 2003. An anonymous funerary epigram for Philitas was preserved by Athenaeus IX 401e. Cf. also Theocritus Idyll 7.39–41. Philitas was also the subject of other Hellenistic poets. Cf. Callimachus fr. 1.9–10 Pf.

[ back ] 42. Pliny NH XXXIII 156, XXXIV 85; cf. Overbeck 1868:417–418. Assuming that Posidippus’ Hecataeus is the one meant in the text, this sculptor is considered by Pliny as second-rate at best. Of course, this opinion may only reflect Pliny’s personal taste and the aesthetics of his time regarding ancient art. At any rate, in the current state of the evidence, we cannot draw conclusions on the reception of Hecataeus’ art in antiquity.

[ back ] 43. This epigram has been the object of two important studies: Sens 2002; Angiò 2002.

[ back ] 44. Cf. Sens 2002:3–4.

[ back ] 45. For Homeric echoes in Posidippus, cf. Nagy (this volume).

[ back ] 46. IG 13, 1261; cf. Svenbro 1988; Childs 1994:35.

[ back ] 47. Pliny NH XXXIV 53. The text is corrupt, mentioning a fifth sculptor by the name of Cydon, which probably derives from Cydonia, the locality from where Cresilas came. Whether Pliny’s passage reflects reports on an ancient competition is disputed, but Posidippus’ text may indicate that there may have been a competition along the lines of similar, earlier ones between Alcamenes and Agoracritus and other sculptors. Cf. Pliny NH XXXVI 17; Ridgway 1974:2. On the Amazons of Ephesus and Cresilas, see Ridgway 1974; Ridgway 1976; Weber 1976; Ridgway 1981:181, 191; Cohen 1994:74, 78–79.

[ back ] 48. Pliny NH XXXIV 53, 74–75. On testimonia on Cresilas, see Overbeck 1868:157–158, nos. 870–876; Orlandini 1961:405–408.

[ back ] 49. This poem by Posidippus significantly departs from the usual reports on Lysippus’ representations of Alexander the Great. The sculptor’s innovating mark in them was a melting glance of his eyes (ὑγρότης τῶν ὀμμάτων) which contrasts sharply with Posidippus’ reference to a fiery glance (πῦρ τοι ὁ χαλκὸϲ ὁρῆι). Cf. Plutarch Alexander 4.1–2. Plutarch reports that it was the painter Apelles who was famous for his depiction of Alexander κεραυνοφόρος, warrior-like, dark, and formidable (φαιότερον καὶ πεπινωμένον). On further analysis of AB 65, cf. Kosmetatou 2003b.

[ back ] 50. Philip II of Macedon reportedly dreamt of sealing pregnant Olympias’ womb with a signet ring bearing an incised representation of a lion, which led Aristander of Telmessos to interpret this as a sign of Alexander’s future bravery. Plutarch Alexander 2.2–3. Cf. Lycophron’s Alexandra, where Roman valor is compared to lion’s strength; Kosmetatou 2000:33 (where previous bibliography is cited).

[ back ] 51. Cf. Papalexandrou (this volume); Bing 2002b; Bing (this volume).

[ back ] 52. Pliny NH XXXIV 75.

[ back ] 53. Childs 1994:35–36. Cf. Vernant 1990:25–34; Denniston and Page 1957:106–107.

[ back ] 54. Sens 2002:5–7.

[ back ] 55. Ovid Ex Ponto IV 1.34; Pliny XXXIV 57; Cicero In Verr. IV 60.135; Lucil. Iun. Aetna V 592; Aelian De Natura Animalium epilog.; Ausonius Ep. 58–68; Tzetzes Chil. VIII 370; Procopius De Bello Gothico IV 21. Cf. Overbeck 1868:98–109.

[ back ] 56. For a discussion of the “Cow-epigrams” and their arrangement within the anthology, see Gutzwiller 1998:245–250.

[ back ] 57. On the colossi of Myron, see Strabo XIV 1.14; Lucian Gall. XXIV 30; Kosmetatou-Papalexandrou 2003:53–58. On Myron in general, see Ridgway 1970:84–86; Stewart 1990:148–149, 237–238, 255–257; Mattusch 1996:195.

[ back ] 58. Pliny NH XXXIV 58. Cf. Isager 1991:99–100.

[ back ] 59. Quintilian II 13.8. Cf. Stewart 1990:148. BG:186 think that the unattested Didymides represents a corruption in the text, being rather a reference to Deinomenes, a student of Polyclitus. In the opinion of this author, these three sculptors are grouped together on the basis of their stylistic affinities, their rigid forms, as the poet puts it. Hence they should be considered as chronologically close. Polyclitus, a later sculptor, even though dismissed in favor of Lysippus, is not really accused of sharing their characteristics, even though he may be considered by Posidippus as belonging to the same tradition as they did, probably for the strict formalism of his work. In this case, formalism would be seen as successor to rigidity.

[ back ] 60. Pliny NH XXXIV 57–58. Cf. Stewart 1990:255–256.

[ back ] 61. Pliny NH XXXIV 41; Sextus Empiricus Adv. Mathem. VII 107; Philo Byzant. De Sept. Mirac. Mundi 14.

[ back ] 62. Pausanias X 10.3 mentions a statue of Tydeus set up in Delphi but offers no further description of it.

[ back ] 63. Simon and Lorenz 1997:142–143.

[ back ] 64. Pliny XXXIV 75.

[ back ] 65. Cf. Pausanias X 38.6–7; Pliny NH XXXV 153; Mattusch 1996:71–72.

[ back ] 66. Herodotus I 51.

[ back ] 67. Herodotus VII 27; Athenaeus XII 514f. A mysterious golden vine is also mentioned in several Delian inventory lists, a new study of which is in progress by this author. Cf. ID 101, line 26 (367 BC).

[ back ] 68. Pliny NH XXXIV 83.

[ back ] 69. Herodotus III 41.

[ back ] 70. Pliny NH XXXIV 83. Pliny’s text is not clear about the position of the fly.

[ back ] 71. Cf. Dorandi 1999a:ciii. The Pergamene Canon comprised the following sculptors: Callon, Hegias, Calamis, Myron, Polyclitus, Phidias, Alcamenes, Praxiteles, Lysippus. On the scholarly circle around the Pergamene library, see Nagy 1998.

[ back ] 72. On Xenocrates, see Pliny NH XXXV 83; Diogenes Laertius VIII 46; Pernice 1939:320, 326–327; Sprigath 2001.

[ back ] 73. IvP 138. Rumpf 1967 mentions a second base as well.

[ back ] 74. Habicht 1990, Kosmetatou 1993:178–180, Nagy 1998, Dorandi 1999a:103, Kosmetatou 2003a.

[ back ] 75. Cf. Isager 1991:102.

[ back ] 76. Pollitt 1974:20–21, 74–77; Dorandi 1999a:103; Sprigath 2001. On Polyclitus, see also Donohue 1995.

[ back ] 77. Atticism had been strongly promoted by Philetaerus and Eumenes I of Pergamon. Cf. Nagy 1998:185–194; Kosmetatou 2003a.

[ back ] 78. Cf. Hauben 1970:33–34.

[ back ] 79. Pausanias VI 13.5. For a collection of the testimonia and an analysis of Duris’ work, see Jacoby, FGrHist 76; Okin 1974; Kebric 1977.

[ back ] 80. On tragic historiography, see Haegemans and Kosmetatou 2003 and Schepens 2003 where previous bibliography is cited.

[ back ] 81. Jacoby, FGrHist 76 T 12.

[ back ] 82. Cf. Okin 1974:128–130.

[ back ] 83. Nagy 1998:190; Dorandi 1999b:35–37.

[ back ] 84. Bing discussed Callicrates of Samos as one of Posidippus’ potential employers at a recent conference at Columbia University. Cf. Bing 2002d.

[ back ] 85. Hauben 1970; Hauben 1989.

[ back ] 86. Nagy 1998:189–192 (especially on the differences between Ptolemaic and Attalid scholarship); Barnes 1999; Rowe 2000:392–395. The Peripatetic Strato of Lampsacus wrote the treatise On the Philosopher King for Ptolemy II Philadelphus.

[ back ] 87. Jacoby FGrHist 76 T 12d, F 31–32. Pliny uses the term toreutike to refer to sculpture, but in Greek authors it signifies works in metal or relief. Cf. Jacoby FGrHist 76 F 85; Clemens Alexandrinus, I 4.26; Eustathius, Schol. ad Od. II 190.

[ back ] 88. Dorandi 1999a:civ.

[ back ] 89. Pliny NH XXXIV 61.

[ back ] 90. Ancient authors state that Lysippus was prolific, and about 1500 bronzes were attributed to him. Cf. Pliny NH XXXIV 37; Mattusch 1996:68–76.

[ back ] 91. Pliny NH XXXV 153. Pollitt 1990:104n53, argues that casts were possibly made of the entire body as well as the face. At any rate, real body casts were used in heat therapy for the treatment of pain.

[ back ] 92. Mattusch 1996:71–72. Cf. Lucian Zeus Tragoidos 33.

[ back ] 93. Jacoby, FGrHist 76 F 1; cf. Schepens 1998.

[ back ] 94. On general reflections about the concept of mimesis in Greek sculpture, see Stewart 1990:73–75. On naturalism and the peripatetics, see Miller 2000.

[ back ] 95. Cf. above discussion of Pliny XXXIV 37. For a study of Duris’ historical and art-historical oeuvre, see Schepens 1998:106–107.

[ back ] 96. Goldhill 1994:223.