Saturday, October 30, 2010

Aristodikos in Opera Nobilia

You can zoom by clicking on an image.  Those not included here are in the Picasa album of this name.
Neither of these Attic grave-marker statues is colossal, as the earliest kouroi from Samos (and for that matter the Attic one from Sounion) are, but both are significantly over life size, and both are masterpieces.  Until Aristodikos (found in 1947) was published, Kroisos, the kouros from Anavysos in Attica, claimed the place of honor in this gallery in the National Archaeological Museum, in the center with a background of his own, in the position occupied by the bronze god from Cape Artemision in the next large gallery.  Kroisos had stood on a traditional three-step base, and we have (found near by) its middle step, asking the viewer to stop and behold Kroisos who, slain by furious Ares, died in battle.  He certainly was named after Croesus (to use the Latinized spelling), the famous Lydian king, and we'd love to know why.  Both the lettering and the style of the kouros support a dating about 530 or in the 520s BCE.  Counting at least three generations to a century, and seeing that the comparanda for Aristodikos are a generation later (there is no space here for rehearsing them all), this, the last great kouros, is datable about 500 BCE.  In this case on the top step, into which his foot-plinth fits, his name still is written ARISTODIKO for the genitive case, because the O is for the false diphthong.  
The stance of the kouros, adopted from Egyptian statuary, together doubtless with the techniques of quarrying and working large stone, and immediately adapted for Greek use (made freestanding in the round and fully nude) once Egypt was opened by the middle of the 26th dynasty, may at first have been partly an exigency.  Merely to make a couple of tons of hard stone, monolithic, stand on two thin legs, only with one advanced to assist, perhaps, in balance, was daring enough, and there were no examples in east Africa, the eastern Mediterranean, or western Asia Minor of monumental, substantive, nude statuary shown moving, turning or shifting weight (let alone in a monolith), to help or challenge the Early Archaic Greek sculptors of ca. 600 BCE.  Even Egyptian statues in wood (or bronze, maybe), which could stand alone, stood in the same stance with one foot forward (and so with legs of slightly unequal length).
The kouros is almost always either votive, in a sanctuary, or funerary, as a grave-marker.  A few votive kouroi bear inscriptions, right on the statue, dedicating it to the relevant god, but naming the deceased youth is rarer: the inscription perhaps was regularly on the stepped base as it is for Kroisos and Aristodikos, and such blocks usually were recycled for building, being ready-made for ashlar or for steps and sills.  The pose was not inappropriate for a young god, such as Apollo, but the Archaic date of even the big kouros from Piraeus, as well as its name as Apollo, is contested and has been since it was found in 1959, and other pretty Apollos in kouros pose are surely late Hellenistic, neo-Archaic.
As European Classical music did with Sonata Form, so did Greek art with generic types that were full of possibilities.  Like the Walking Pose and the Leaning Pose in Classical and Late Classical Greek sculpture, so the Kouros in Archaic and Late Archaic was worked with till, as such, it could yield no more that was new.  Aristodikos, it is fair to say, has all the understanding of the human body that is needed to cease being a kouros type; indeed, not needing to support themselves on their own legs, the marble pedimental giants, Peisistratid and only a bit later than Kroisos, are undeterred by the difficulties of doing something (at the scale of the Classical Parthenon itself) that had never been attempted before.
Perhaps it was not only the challenges (the twisting torso, the clavicles embracing the neck to the trapezius, the muscular flesh folding at the knee, not to mention composing a gigantomachy in a pediment) but the dignity of the serene youth in death that the kouros by now expressed that made the pose last as long as it did.
Here are Aristodikos, in strict front view, the Kritian Boy from the Acropolis, and the odd little kouros from Agrigento.  The Wiki uses a picture of the Agrigento kouros to illustrate the Hellenistic, technical limitation of the word ephebe, but it is the Acropolis boy that is a mere adolescent.  Aristodikos is a young man old enough to have died perhaps still ephebos yet perhaps like Kroisos old enough for military service.  But the Kritian boy, which in all probability (see Jeffrey Hurwitt), really does date from the very last years before the Persian sack of the Acropolis and thus is only about 15 years later than Aristodikos, is no longer a kouros (since we use that word, though in early Greek it just meant 'boy', for a particular stance and type): his weight is on his left leg, so that his spine must curve a little, his pelvis tilt, his free right leg bend its knee (and if complete allow him to use his right foot just to balance), and to complement that movement his head turns a little to proper right.  This statue is not life size, though over 3/4, so the weight of the solid torso on the slender legs is not quite so serious as with the large grave-marker statues.  The Agrigento boy is smaller, but it seems to be just Western conservatism that made them choose a strict kouros stance, with all the muscles and proportions, facial expression and hair style, of the Early Classical period to which it belongs, chronologically (logically, of course, work is dated by its latest relevant traits, and this one is well past c. 480, though the pelvis, considered as a complex of bones in the body, is not well understood).  Aristodikos has a pelvis capable both of cradling his innards and socketing his femur bones, but for the moment it is not in action.  It is this real pelvis that permits the sculptor to give the thighs proper proportions.  Kroisos from Anavysos has thighs like those on the Siphnian Treasury at Delphi, which cannot be later than c. 525 BCE.
It is not rules of thumb, such as trivial details that patrons might wish to retain on a funerary or votive sculpture, that are relevant to dating it, relatively, in a series.
One of the korai from the Acropolis, dated usually in the first decade of the new century, that seems very comparable with Aristodikos, has ripple-wave hair and stylized zigzags on the edge of her diagonally draped himation, just as he has snail-curl patterns for the curls around his brow, but these decorative details might also be chosen even later than these two works.  What is alike is the powerful skulls and mandilbles and level brows, as well as the relative size and placement of their facial features.  It was a tragedy that Aristodikos was 'discovered' by a plough.  His features must have survived almost intact until that moment.  Enough remains, though, to make this comparison.  He and Kore #684 belong in that tradition favoring heroic massiveness—as distinct from sheer bulk as from daintiness—among several studio traditions represented among the Attic Archaic marble sculptures.  Kroisos from Anavysos belongs to it, too.
Like Kroisos, too, not that they are intimately related, sylistically, Aristodikos is really appreciated best in  3/4 views, whether from the front or the back.  The treatment of the crown of his head, by the way, may show that while alive his hair was flattened by his helmet (Kroisos actually seems to wear a knit cap to prevent the helmet from abrading and, in effect, shearing his hair).  In any case, his somatic type is no longer that of a soft adolescent—and gangling boys, like Michelangelo's David, are really rare in Greece; the famously tall  Evzone guards come mostly from the northern parts.
Finally, what I never discussed in lectures at my university.  Everyone knows, of course, that Greece glorified male beauty.  In the Introduction, pp. 1-25, of  Classical Greece and the Birth of Western Art, Cambridge UP, 2008, Andrew Stewart provides the best statement I have seen in a lifetime of reading on the subject of Greek nudity.  It is well and good, confronted with a class of kindergartners, to explain that antiquity had none of the knits and synthetic fibers that gym clothes are made of today, and, Greece being as warm as Louisiana, they did their physical education in the buff, but I never dared confront older children, let along undergraduates, with a line like that.
Let us return to the initial statement, above, that Greece immediately got rid of the Egyptians' little skirt, though it is incomparably easier to sculpt a human body without having to deal with the pelvic girdle, that fulcrum of our living bodies.  It was for dedications to deities as well as for representations of young deities and, above all, for the representation of the human person as he should be for the afterlife, for eternity (put it as you will: as the gods made him, perhaps) that Greek ethos thought nudity important.  It is a more pervasive and profound idea than that, as in the Truth of Apelles, nudity 'symbolizes' Truth.  Greek art, especially in its youth, does not deal in Symbols.  

In the case of Aristodikos, however, we have something more explicit.  Even if his face had not been damaged it was no more exactly and sensitively represented than his genitals.  Later Greek art, Hellenistic genre art and erotic art, like the Barberini Faun, or ethnically descriptive, like the Dying Gaul, show weathered and much-used genitals.  Those, however, are descriptive of essentially verbal ideas about those subjects.  On Aristodikos we see the parts that Paul of Tarsus called shame, parts that Victorians, irrespective of what they did with them, did not name at all, parts that even on my newborn infant brother I was not allowed to refer to (but the grown ups made cute little jokes about)—we see them rendered as tenderly as a sleeping baby's face, showing inner structures and the way the skin encloses them.  Twice I have mentioned this fact to someone else, someone of my own generation, and twice was sorry to have embarrassed one and shocked the other.  But in fact the rendering of every part of Aristodikos with equal (and, be it said, unique) reverence is precisely what is not shameful, not even erotic, in this statue.  It is, after all, the publicly exhibited grave marker of a very wealthy, very aristocratic (I dare say) landowner's son, tragically dead when barely grown and shown exactly as his family would wish him remembered, him whom they had named Aristodikos.
Most of the erotic, occasionally downright, deliberately pornographic pictures on Greece vases are on drinking equipment and, besides, were shipped off to the Etruscans.
A professor might, with some reservations, repeat something a bit risqué to a class, but not try to teach them something that probably they will not understand.  One does not want to be asked whether 'that' will be on the test, or not.
May I recommend again Sir John Boardman's Greek Sculpture: The Archaic Period (World of Art) and the above-mentioned book by Andrew Stewart.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Concerning those cathedrals

The Early Gothic 4-part elevation and 6-partite vaults
of Notre Dame de Paris

Speaking of those Cathedrals

Last week in this my second blog, Opera Nobilia, I mentioned the reference to Biblical numbers in the design of the great Gothic cathedrals of Europe.  One might recall, too, the importance of perfectly measured predetermined relationships in the design of Buddha statues and paintings, like the perfect circle, too, of Mary’s head in Christian icons.  As the Classical Greeks had studied nature, and not least the human body, to discover what was ideal (and, reading Vitruvius, the Renaissance in Leonardo’s Vitruvian man and in Palladian proportions followed them), the classics of the 13th century looked rather to the Bible for perfect numbers (not that it is at all clear that its authors chose them for proportions).  It was Abbot Suger, who had been reading the 6th-century Syrian pseudo-Dionysios for his mysticism of light, who reinterpreted that and numerology in creating the Gothic style, but it was the builders, the engineers and the ilk of Villard de Honnecourt, who realized Suger’s ideas: made the cathedrals stand and made them lovely.  In the century when poets in springtime first looked at real flowers again (instead of working from antique floweriness), Amiens has all the way around its interior a lovely, natural garland of flowers, not just motifs.  When sculptors had, quite obviously, been looking at the drapery of Greco-Roman statuary, we see again cloth that hangs softly and enhances a body implied within it.  And (shame on NOVA), when builders had for a couple of generations been aware of double-centered arches in the mosques of southern Spain—and don’t forget the crusades—they took up the challenge and created Gothic vaulting.  The foregoing merely attempts to draw attention to some of the best studies of the 20th century, by alluding to them; it is no substitute for reading the works themselves.  One mid-century study, wordy as it is, contributed a key concept: Du Miracle grec au miracle Chrétien, by Wm. Deonna, though it is not so famous as the works of Wittkower, Panofsky, E. R. Curtius, Katzenellenbogen, et al.  It is the 13th century in Europe that rediscovered and revered the way things really look, and based figural arts on close observation of living things, leaving only further development to the Renaissance.  Almost all other art had relied very much on schemata.  Working from primary experience of reality to make art was the miracle.  It isn’t at all just copying.  I mean, pace NOVA, the Biblical numerology that we see in Medieval art is not the most important thing about it; it may even be just a sop for Cerberus, for the churchmen and some of the devout.  It isn’t what makes the cathedrals great, least of all graceful, harmonious Amiens.  NOVA might better have considered the engineering of the cathedrals in more detail and left to others what it seems not to understand fully.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

"The measure of all things"

Olympia Metope, Apples of the Hesperides  (yes, a generation earlier, but radical in its own right)
author's snapshot in museum
I was reminded by another viewing of the NOVA program on the Parthenon of the basis, gradually built from all my experience of ancient Greece and all of the modern writers that I most admire, of my convictions concerning it: the founding of Greek art and thought in the keenest and most devoted empirical study, in particular of the human body and mind.  It searches for, and finds, the universal and mathematical in the particular and the concrete.  I revere this.
I have no time now to try to write an essay, and, besides, I cannot compete with the best studies that exist, so I shall post simply this statement.
In the TV blurb announcing next how the great cathedrals were built (and I love them, too), the announcer says that they looked for divine numbers in the Bible.  The difference, not to judge but to notice, between endeavoring to make buildings and figural representations to adhere to a divine text, and endeavoring to find what inheres in everything and then making art and architecture accordingly, and thus separate philosophy from worship (while still loving the ancestral deities), is the radical division that runs through all our civilization.  Call it Protagoras vs Plotinus, if you wish, though that is much too crude a reduction.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Bronze Statuary 3 (Appendix)

This is the draft of March 2007 that I abandoned. The notes, converted to endnotes by saving it as html, are useful if anyone wants their more complete and accurate references. What would have been notes to the catalogue of coins is incorporated in the Forvm Ayiyoryitika article (for the list and picture references, see the main Post, Bronze Statuary 3, which as exposition readers who have read several versions find clearest. But it does assume the contents of the Posts Bronze Statuary 1 and 2. As I can, I'll come back and make the list numbers bold. Whether I can link to the endnotes, I don't know (at least, I don't know how). Possibly, hardly anyone will want the extra information here, but I'll post it anyhow.

The Coins of Apollo Sauroktonos
 Overlooking the uniqueness of the succession of Apollo Sauroktonos representations on Danubian bronze coins has prevented their receiving the specific kind of attention that they require.  Older art historians repeatedly analyzed and compared the corpus of freestanding copies of the Praxitelean statuary type, often arguing that one or another was validated by the two coins that Overbeck and Pick had used to illustrate it.[1]  They may have left the impression that the subject had been exhausted, when numismatically it hardly had been touched, and, besides, coins that Pick barely knew and others that were unknown to his generation are now available.  The availability of all the obverse types, with the reverse types, now enables a real study of the Sauroktonos coins.[2] Unifying the methodologies of kindred disciplines  no longer is disconcerting; in this case, classical archaeology simply is reintegrated, but not to address old questions in old ways.  First, therefore, we must revise the questions affecting statuary types and their use, especially in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AC, on Greek Imperial coins.[3]
                  The reverse types in Greek Imperial coinage include a great variety of statuary types.  Venerable cult images such as represent their cities on alliance coinage were either actually or purportedly extremely ancient, and we guess that their origin was in the Early Archaic 7th century.  They were badges of the antiquity and sanctity of cities and cults.[4]  Ancient texts regard them as admirable but do not assess them as works of art.  The evidence of the coins of Ephesos and Alexandria, Troas,[5] for instance, shows that the sanctuaries also were graced by statues that appealed to later taste, statues that probably were of bronze and stood in the groves of the sanctuaries.  There were statues, also, among the elder Pliny's opera nobilia,[6] that had become more famous, more axia idein for tourists, than the cults themselves, such as the Aprhodite of Cnidus or the Eros of Thespiae or the Eros of Parium.[7]  Certainly the languorous statue of Apollo in the Athens Lyceum was more famous than the shrine of the earlier imported cult of Apollo Lykeios, which gave its name to the near-by school.[8]  The statuary compositions of some of these were widely recycled.  There were, of course, also the many statues that Pausanias noted as he visited their sites, too often (for our use) mentioned only generically: a statue of Pan, for example.
                  The Apollo Sauroktonos by Praxiteles, though one of the best attested of all Classical statuary types, not merely cited but actually described by Pliny, stands apart from any of these.[9]  The incident it depicts is not in traditional mythology, though it may allude playfully to Python; Apollo had no boyhood narrative apart from the descriptions of this statue.  Much as the boyhood of John the Baptist created in the Early Renaissance was unattested in Biblical scripture and theologically unimportant, so the idyllic young Apollo was created by Praxiteles for connoisseurs.  If it stood in a sanctuary or temple (as the famous Hermes at Olympia, being marble with some tinting, stood in the Old Temple), it was as a dedication, not for cult.  We do not know (and Pliny may not have known) for whom it was made, or where, or even whether the original survived in the Antonine and Severan periods when the Sauroktonos coins were issued. Though almost certainly created in bronze, it is in Pliny's book on stone,[10] and the familiar copies from Italy are of marble. It may have been on the basis of a smaller, bronze version, however, like the Villa Albani statuette, that Martial encapsulated the Lizard-Slayer in his epigram.  Two copies in Athens also are of marble.  We now understand that pointed copies were made from plaster casts out of reassembled piece molds, the latter taken either from the original or from an intermediate copy.  Indirect hollow casting of bronzes also could utilize piece molds. Noticeable differences in alignment and thickness occurred, and the finishing always was by hand, by eye, varying as the workshop had, or lacked, firsthand access to the original.  Accessories, such as tree trunks and lizards, might seldom have utilized piece molds.  Variations inherent in these processes do not compromise the identity of the type.[11]
                  The frivolity of the Sauroktonos statue is delusory; as a realization of a leaning pose, the stance is at once stable and precarious; as a study of adolescent nudity, it is miraculously free of pornographic allure.  Even in copies, its artistic consequence justifies its fame, though we cannot guess how those who issued the coins saw it.  It shows the august deity absorbed in a boyish sport, playing darts with a lizard, apparently aware of nothing else, his own godhead included.  His hairstyle and nudity, of course, signify his identity to us.  The action transforms the leaning pose, because his right hand held a dart aimed at a lizard on which his attention is fixed, and the tree trunk is essential to the anecdote, not a superfluous support.  Leaning poses abound in Classical sculpture; for the Sauroktonos each element is essential.  The Vatican copy preserves the right hand.  A head in the Benaki Museum in Athens, no. 23722, unretouched, preserves his boyishness.  The root marks remaining on the Athens torso, National Archaeological Museum no. 1623, guarantee the modeling of a subtle copy, easily destroyed by cleaning and polishing.  Its plumpness agrees better with the Louvre than with the Vatican copy, but they may merely reflect slightly different copyist traditions.  It is remarkable indeed that some of the coins captured the essence of the pose, seen either frontally or somewhat to the statue's right side, but not surprising that others simplify and clarify its composition.  The essential thing is that it is indubitably a Sauroktonos.
                  Here we must emphasize that the use of this leaning pose does not per se make a Sauroktonos.  Wonderful poses were freely used when new statues were wanted, and not only under the Empire.  Pastiches were not despised or regarded as plagiarism.  So any ancient person would admire the Apollo of Apollonia ad Rhyndacum as an admirably contrived offshoot, not later than Hellenistic, and not as a Sauroktonos, since it pointedly replaced the tree with a column and had neither a lizard nor a dart.  The ancients liked to talk about the attributes of images, and it is hard to doubt that at Apollonia ad Rhyndacum their Apollo was regarded as distinctly their own.[12]  Borrowing the graceful posture simply made good sense, but, significantly, Apollonia ad Rhyndacum stripped this one of its anecdotal, fundamentally secular attributes.  On other coins, too, we see famous poses evidently recycled, as when a young athlete becomes a young god.[13]
                  Although, from the time of Perikles and Pheidias through the period of Alexander of Macedon (the date of Pliny’s enigmatic deinde cessavit ars),[14] urban Greeks made celebrities of their most successful artists, urban Romans scarcely acknowledged their own sculptors and metalworkers.  They hired others to adorn their lives, just as the wives of Chicago meatpackers a century ago went to Paris for the clothes they would wear to attend an opera season imported from Europe.  What one buys is often simply appropriated as paid for, and so we know nothing of the artisans, some of them excellent artists, who created special dies for coins.  Nor do we know who chose the figure-types in their repertory, or if the engravers might offer suggestions.  Of course, for the recently founded Trajanic towns in Thrace and Moesia Inferior, exceptional types needed someone’s official sanction, particularly when these recurred over three quarters of a century and did not correspond to the city’s regular types.  Therefore, it is necessary to say even before discussing it that the almost exclusive occurrence of Apollo Sauroktonos on the coins of Nicopolis ad Istrum cannot be explained.  It seems generally to have been chosen for young Caesars, but apart from Nicopolis only at Antonine Philippopolis and nowhere else.  The sole exception, a single issue at Prusa ad Olympum in Bithynia, has for its obverse a laureate and bearded Commodus.  The Sauroktonos never appeared on a coin or medal of the Rome mint.
                  On Greek Imperials of the 2nd and 3rd centuries we see some statuary types that originated as freestanding works existing in their own right adopted, evidently, as cult statues in temples; for example, the Athenian Apollo Lykeios type appears in tetrastyle temples on coins of Marcianopolis, where, fundamentally frontal and self-contained, it looks perfectlyappropriate.[15]  Statues in strong leaning poses, compositions that also needed to be seen from more than one vantage point, seem inappropriate and, in fact, the Sauroktonos never is shown in a temple.  Apollonia ad Rhyndacum, in fact, shows its statue only as seen from the door.  As an anecdotal subject to delight connoisseurs, a real Sauroktonos seems particularly unlikely as a cult statue.  Besides, Nicopolis regularly used the conservative standing Apollo, with laurel twig and patera, as its deity type.[16]  Pick may have been right, however, that Nicopolis actually had a Sauroktonos statue,[17] and perhaps Philippopolis had one, too, and Prusa.  If so, and they stood in civic gardens, they may well have been bronze rather than marble copies.[18]  Given the re-usability of sets of piece molds and the possibility of making new bronzes by off-casting from pre-existing copies, it is important to realize that, even had the original been inaccessible or destroyed, a new city might have its own.  As witness to good copies on the Danube frontier, in fact, the early excavations at Nicopolis itself produced a very nice adolescent Eros, related to the Parium type.[19]
                  The processes by which copies were made, much better understood since the publication of the Baiae workshop, have a large literature of their own; here, because it is with the type that the coins are concerned, it will suffice to refer to the marble copies in the Louvre and the Vatican.
The Antonine Sauroktonoi (1–9)[20]
                  The only Apollo Sauroktonos reverses not from Nicopolis ad Istrum are Antonine.  Three of the nine are from Philippopolis and visibly closely related to those from Nicopolis; the fourth is the only non-Danubian and visibly quite independent.  The first ones, 1–4, were issued under Antoninus Pius when Marcus Aurelius was a young Caesar; they are much alike, though one of them, 4, is from Philippopolis.  Portraits of Antoninus Pius are almost ageless, but, as Pick pointed out, the governor’s name, Zeno, dates 1 (AMNG I, 1, no. 1225),  ca. 143[21].  We now have closely similar anonymous issues, unknown to Pick, nos. 2 and 3, die-linking Antoninus Pius with his new, young Caesar, and 4, so closely related that, even without his name, they look like a joint issue by Zeno.  These four are true to the statuary type and slightly stiff, in keeping with the prevailing decorum of Antoninus Pius’s coinage.  Each has a lizard on the tree trunk where the statues show it and the right hand poised to hold a dart; the figure is foreshortened rather than unfolded (Pl.  , fig.  ).
                  Antoninus Pius’s larger Sauroktonos at Philippopolis, 5, is weaker in style but normal (except that his legs are miscrossed), and it was issued by the last Thracian governor of his reign, Gargilius Antiquus.  At Perinthos, where this governor is named, Marcus Aurelius is bearded.  The other previously published Philippopolis coin, 6, issued for Faustina II perhaps by Marcus Aurelius, since she wears her hair at the occipital level, is known in several excellent specimens.  It is not properly a Sauroktonos, lacking not only the lizard but also its tree, yet it is unlikely to have been engraved independently of the Sauroktonos types.  It is the first to show the boy’s right arm not foreshortened but folded back, semaphore-like.  He does hold a dart, though he rests his outstretched left arm on a column or stele, at the base of which is, perhaps, a quiver (clearer on one reverse die than on the other).  The type being unique, we can only guess that the little boy at once alludes to a child Commodus and to his father’s Sauroktonos coins as Caesar.  Certainly the engraver consulted neither a copy of the  statue nor a nice gem nor a Sauroktonos coin in legible condition.  Except in the context of Sauroktonos coins faithful to the statuary type, no one could call this one by its name.  No further Sauroktonos coins are known from Philippopolis.
                  Represented by a cast at the Ashmolean Museum, we do have a normal Sauroktonos for Commodus at Nicopolis, 7; this seems to be a rough copy of his father’s.  For Commodus laureate and bearded, we have several good specimens of a small copper at Nicopolis,  8.  Both the tree and the Apollo are rigid and spindly, but it seems to be a tree, not a column, and it has a lizard, though the lizard is at the level of his legs and might be unidentifiable without its little feet.  Both of these were unknown to Pick, who did remark that some of Commodus’s dies are exceptionally bad; this die-pair certainly would distressPraxiteles.  In one particular it anticipates the ambiguity of M. Agrippa’s Sauroktonos for Macrinus, 20, a full generation later: what is the right hand doing?
                  The graceful Sauroktonos at Prusa ad Olympum, 9, unique and overlooked by Lacroix,[22] also has a laureate Commodus obverse.  The lizard and the dart are only implied, but the posture and the tree are unmistakable, and the die gives one the sense of a real statue—a bronze statue requiring no gratuitous transverse branches from the tree trunk as struts.
The Sauroktonoi of Septimius and his family
                  Septimius’s first governor of Moesia Inferior as his consular legate was Pollenius Auspex,[23] and a group of anonymous coins, quite large (up to D. 28mm), mostly unpublished, must be described here to justify the conclusion that the first Sauroktonos for Septimius was issued before the installation of Cosconius Gentianus.   First, we have a Capitoline Aphrodite (what the 19th century called “Venus Pudica”, but that term is more generic) with Auspex’s name, C1, its obverse die being that of AMNG I, 1, nos. 1254, 1255, 1257.*  We also have the same Aphrodite type, but anonymous,  twice, C2, C3, once from very fresh dies but cruelly double-struck, and its obverse die at first glance might be mistaken for the listed Auspex die.  The obverse die used with the signed reverses, however, is very neat and round-browed and much more suggestive of three-dimensionality.  The anonymous coins are linearly expressive but flat and structurally loose in comparison.  This latter obverse portrait, probably the same die, is that of  10.  Several specimens, well preserved but unpublished, all have the same die pair.  Almost identical, but a different die, is an anonymous river god, C4, not identical to the listings at AMNG I, 1, nos. 1258-1260, with reverses  signed by Auspex.  This anonymous river god has the ill-jointed arms and over-size head of a Commodus river god (ibid., no. 1235, Taf. XVII, 31, which should be rotated about 45° clockwise), and it is not impossible that the atelier that made some of Commodus’s dies remained to work on Septimius’s first ones, cutting second-string dies.  The Sauroktonos, however, is slender and charming; though the large head might be a folk-art trait, as on the river god, here it makes the Apollo childlike.  The lizard, or snake, is at the level of his thighs, but in his right hand he holds a laurel twig with small leaves, as if intending not to transfix the lizard but swat it.  This is a Sauroktonos but an aberrant one,  as 8 was.
                  At early Severan Nicopolis, 11 first gives us a Moesian governor’s name; the small coppers for Septimius and Geta, 12 and 13, have none, but one of the reverse dies, 13, used for both Septimius and Geta, should not antedate 198, when Caracalla was named Augustus and Geta raised to Caesar.  Probably all three date from about that time.  Some, but not all, of the obverse portraits of Septimius used with them are quite early looking.
                  The coins issued in the name of Ovinius Tertullus initiate a new phase in Nicopolitan coinage.  For him a lovely, young Julia Domna obverse was created and the finest of all the Septimius obverses, as well as the legend-in-wreath acclamation on coins for Septimius and his sons, and 11, Caracalla’s first Sauroktonos, AMNG I, 1, no. 1518.  An excellent engraver created its engaging Caracalla portrait, recalling but improving on some of the Eastern Mint denarius dies.  The Sauroktonos on the reverse, as young as the prince, still a plump child, indeed resembling Caracalla, leans forward like the Louvre copy of the Sauroktonos, is amused by an open-mouthed lizard—and prepares to swat at it with a laurel twig in his right hand, which is drawn back but lowered.  What is this?  There is no hint of naiveté in this die.  Septimius had already had his elder boy represented as an infant Herakles about to throttle the menacing snakes; the statue is in the Museo Capitolino.  Could he (or his agents) have ordered for Nicopolis a variant Apollo Lizard Slayer, with laurel to make him more patently Apollonian (though less a Sauroktonos)?  Even the first Antonine Sauroktonoi, which are canonical, require an available prototype.  If a Sauroktonos had been dedicated for Marcus Aurelius when Antoninus Pius made him Caesar, another for Septimius’s son might be all the likelier.  Such an inference compounds speculations, but the use of this statuary type for coinage here was most exceptional, and the pretension of Antonine lineage seems to have been important to Septimius and, surely, well known to his appointed governors.
                  Whatever the actual excuse for it, the Tertullus Sauroktonos reverse is a deliberate variant of the canonical type.  It will recur, deliberately.
                  With the Tertullus Caracalla portrait, and its characteristic letter forms, we may compare the least well known, 12a, of the small, copper Sauroktonos coins that Pick’s no. 1354 may subsume (the description and legend match, but the Berlin specimen, 12b, is a pair of peculiar dies that, at best, qualify as an incompetent variant).  On 12a the small Apollo stands straight but, unlike that of Commodus, 8, is sturdy and muscular, anatomically credible.  His dart is emphatic, with a large arrowhead.  The stance is unlike the statues, but it might have been taken from intaglio gems like those in the British Museum that Rizzo and Picard illustrate.  The supporting leg and the thorax are frontal, permitting the arms to be spread as if to throw a javelin.  Surely, 12b, perhaps the only one Pick knew firsthand, is only a secondary die.*  12c, on the other hand, though stylistically distinct from  12b, is careful and competent work. 
                  Because the Rousse die, 12a, is closely related, both in the style of Apollo’s anatomy and in the letterforms of the ethnic, to the Tertullus die of Pick’s 1518, 11, very likely it, too, was issued c. 198.  Caracalla’s unpublished tetrassarion with ΕΥΤΥΧΩΣ ΤΟΙΣ ΚΥΡΙΟΙΣ in a wreath, C5, lacks the circumferential legend naming Tertullus, but it shares the obverse die of 11, so both the acclamation and the die place it, too, c. 198.
                   The shared die, Pick’s 1355 for Septimius, 13a, and 1639 for Geta, 13b, also probably celebrates Geta’s elevation to Caesar and if so is contemporary with these.  It was used eventually even with a serious die break (see pl. 00).  The head of Geta seems always to be the same, a portrait as fine as Caracalla’s on his larger coin.  The incorrect obverse legend, giving ΑΥΡ as his nomen, is early; as Pick says, his name is already corrected on nos. 1622-1624, issued by Tertullus for both brothers.  Geta’s die, however, is a true Sauroktonos.  This die, capturing the action, both tense and easy, of the boy Apollo leaning forward in a position to strike the lizard, is closest to the stance of the Louvre’s marble copy.  Caracalla, in fact, had nothing like it.
                  The next group of Sauroktonos reverses, issued by Aurelius Gallus, were, possibly with one exception, 14, part of the numerous and varied issues relative to Caracalla’s marriage to Plautilla in 202.  The die that stands apart is Septimius’s, Pick no. 1288, the art-history textbook coin for the statuary type.  It is rarely seen well struck but it was a masterly die by any standards.  The figure of Apollo is elegant and convincing in its foreshortening and anatomy; the obverse die that seems always to accompany it is a classic early-Gallus portrait die.  The reverse, as statuary in its effect as Antoninus Pius’s, 1 and 2, conveys far greater alertness.  But the remaining Gallus Sauroktonos dies, beginning with the shared die, Pick 1289 for Septimius and 1539 for Caracalla, 15a–b, are comparatively graceless.  The Apollo figure lacks the tectonic and organic integration of parts that impart a sense of life, as in masterly Classical sculpture.  The portrait of Caracalla, now about 14 years old, is one of a set of draped busts and heads (the nicest used with the Nicopolitan Propago Imperi reverse), all in similar style and probably all close in date, c. 202.  Caracalla himself has a second pair of dies for the Sauroktonoos, not listed separately by Pick, 15c.  What is most remarkable is that Plautilla (Pick 1626), 16a, and Geta (Pick 1654), 16b, both have Sauroktonos tetrassarion reverses, too, issued by Gallus.  Indeed, they share a reverse die, with a slenderer and more graceful Apollo, his arms spread very wide, so that the composition really is unfolded or flattened.  Young empresses otherwise do not have Sauroktonos reverse dies.  Even Julia Domna has no Sauroktonos.  Plautilla, furthermore, whether to honor her or her father, also has a Capitoline Aphrodite reverse, though only Domna has Aphrodite with Eros.  Geta’s portrait die, which recurs with a fine Dionysos reverse, Pick no. 1656, is extremely fine.
                  A century ago, we had only a belated postscript to the foregoing, in two Sauroktonoi issued for Macrinus, who did, after all, emphasize his feigned blood ties to Septimius and re-named his own son Antoninus.  Then, in 1989, a dealer’s illustrated list offered a tetrassarion of Septimius, issued by Fl. Ulpianus, the last governor or Moesia Inferior to issue coins in his lifetime, with an unmistakable Sauroktonos reverse, 17a.  The head of Septimius on the obverse die was unlike the toothless old emperor of most late issues, the legend even ended in Π, and the Sauroktonos was plainly a quotation from the Tertullus issue of c. 198, 11, with a laurel branch instead of a dart in Apollo’s lowered right hand.  Neither laurel twig nor lizard has distinctive characteristics, but both are present, and the knobby upright is surely a tree trunk.  Though this coin, known only from the photograph, may be unique, the reverse type, with its own die, was also used for Caracalla, 17b.  By this time, Caracalla was into his twenties and bearded, but the portrait (now in scale armor) is of a beardless youth.  His features are rather generic, though others of the unaccountable beardless Caracallas of Ulpianus, which Pick remarked on, seem designed to resemble the child of Tertullus’s engraver, 11.  Around the Sauroktonos, even the tipsy Υs and Λs and the broad Πs characteristic of many Tertullus legends seem to be imitated.  With his father not yet dead, and himself still young, such a retrospective issue certainly shows that the Apollo Sauroktonos with a laurel twig was not an ignorant accident.  It even tempts one to think of Caracalla (if only we knew how much he was aware of what was struck here in his name) as sentimental about his shining boyhood.  Besides, we have not seen the last of the laurel-twig variant.
                  Statius Longinus, the first of Macrinus’s governors of Moesia Inferior, whose obverse portrait dies for Macrinus may be aligned with his first issue of denarii in Rome, issued a remarkable Sauroktonos die for Macrinus, 18.  The figure of Apollo is lithe and alert, balanced leaning forward, on the verge of releasing the dart in his right hand (here held at a convincing angle).  The lizard is nearly worn away, but its presence does not seem in doubt.  To see the statue in this configuration, one must move around it, to the right (Pl.  , fig.  ).  In this respect, it resembles the Prusa Sauroktonos of Commodus, 9, rather than its own Moesian predecessors.  In either case, the engraver seems to have known Sauroktonos statues and understood the formal motif of the composition, but a generation later this one is more remarkable.  This die pair is exemplary of the best of Macrinus’s remarkable coinage at Nicopolis and Marcianopolis, the two mints chosen, evidently, to produce bronze coins for the entire region.  It was not known to Pick, but two others for Macrinus are in his lists.
                  P. Fu. Pontianus, who succeeded Longinus, used the Marcianopolis mint, except for a few coins.  Two of his Nicopolis obverse dies continued to be used by the last governor, M. Cl. Agrippa.  One of those, 19, with a reverse die still signed by Pontianus, is a  Sauroktonos, Pick’s AMNG I, 1, no. 1679 (a single specimen in Vienna).  It is later than 18, which, in my opinion, used one of the earliest Longinus obverse dies.  Within a fourteen-month reign, of course, it cannot be much later.  The reverse is not in good condition, but a new photograph seems to confirm Pick’s customarily careful description, distinguishing an “Apollo in the posture of the Sauroktonos” (no. 1518, here 11) and a depiction of the actual statuary type, even when some details have become unclear.  At no. 1679, he marks ‘dart’ and ‘lizard’ with a question mark but calls the type “Sauroktonos” and specifies, “den r. Arm zurückgezogen”.  His help is welcome: the stance, therefore, resembles that of the Longinus reverse.  This is noteworthy, because the remaining two Sauroktonoi are quite different.
                  The Agrippa Sauroktonos for Macrinus, 20, Pick’s no. 1687, used since Overbeck to illustrate the Sauroktonos from coinage, in fact is problematic as such.  The obverse portrait is still related to that shared with Pontianus and even more closely to one used by Longinus, but it is much scrawnier.  Even the best preserved reverses, with intact patina, of this fairly common coin give no hint of what Apollo’s right hand was doing (if he had one), where it ought to be rendered in front of the torso, but I know several that plainly show a dart held in the left hand at the extremity of the tree trunk, a tree trunk executed by four offset gouges.  Between the torso and this tree trunk, against the field of the coin, joining the torso and perhaps also the tree trunk, is a slightly wavy gouge, which, on the best specimens, is flanked by two pairs of pellets (they do not join up).  A lizard?  A leafy twig (if so, not clearly laurel)?  With the right hand absent and the dart (in the left hand) out of play, the interpretation of this thing as a lizard requires an act of faith.  It recalls, however,  8 for Commodus, which has on at least two specimens the same combination: an indefinite right hand and an indefinite object, not clearly a lizard and possibly a twig, between the torso and the tree.  After the Longinus and Pontianus Sauroktonoi, this detailed but aberrant  representation is astonishing.  At Nicopolis, 8 and 20 must be part of the Sauroktonos series, but neither of them seems to be an intelligent and deliberate variant, and Agrippa’sMacrinus Sauroktonos, like his “Medici Aphrodite”, ought never to be reproduced, Overbeck notwithstanding, as a straightforward representation of the type.
                  Agrippa’s issue for Diadumenian, 21, on the other hand, is an accurate rendition of the variant with a laurel twig in the lowered right hand.  It is a fairly faithful copy of the Ulpianus die, 17,  the Sauroktonos for the  beardless Caracalla that seems to be retrospective.  This coin is still rare, if indeed the specimen shown here is not unique, but it is important that it does exist.  Diadumenian had his own Apollo Sauroktonos, linked to an obverse die in the mannered style that may mark Agrippa’s final issues, its engraving being also somewhat coarse.  The Sauroktonos is again the variant, 11, created for Caracalla when he was made named Augustus jointly with his father, a fact that may have been recalled in using it for Diadumenian.  Further speculation is indefensible, but this surely is a deliberate and meaningful variant of the Apollo Sauroktonos type.
                  Though by now we could not be surprised if a Longinus Sauroktonos with an obverse for Diadumenian were one day published from still unstudied regional collections, Pick must be right that there were none for Maesa’s grandsons and none later.  The relatively extravagant cultural pretensions of c. 198–218 were abandoned in Moesia Inferior.  Elagabalus’s coinage, issued by Novius Rufus, is quite different and has different pretensions.
Tentative conclusions
                  It must have become obvious that in studying these coins I came to think that, at least at Nicopolis and at least in the Severan period, changing consular governors are associated with changing styles and choices of types and standards in the production of the bronze coins of Moesia Inferior.  Also,  the Apollo Sauroktonos was used to celebrate the young heirs to the imperial throne and was chosen because it was an opus nobile celebrating divine adolescence (at least by playfulallusion).  Further, it seems to me to be part of the Antonine pretensions of Septimius and so of Macrinus; since Antoninus Pius and the young Marcus Aurelius had these new and unique reverse types, so should Septimius and Caracalla (and, as Caesar, Geta) have them.  By the time that Elagabalus and Severus Alexander succeeded the throne, not only had times changed but anything that recalled Macrinus and his son was avoided; a governor with very different agenda evidently was chosen for Elagabalus.  Behind such notions, however, lies the yawning gap of ignorance concerning the mentalities of the new cities (especially Nicopolis, which had suffered destruction in 170) where these coins were issued and used.  Monumental inscriptions, and certainly Dio Cassius and Herodian, give us no hints that might be applied to the choices of subjects for the coins issued on the Danube frontier.
                  The coins, indeed, are themselves our primary evidence, even for the names of most of the governors, Septimius’s consular legates.  This is why the delimited career of a Praxitelean statuary subject, otherwise unknown to the coinage of the Empire, a series evidently unique, is so significant.  Whatever the attendant facts may have been, such a series is historical evidence, though wanting further evidence to help explain it.  Whether the persistent variant type of 11 corresponded to a Caracalla-Sauroktonos statue we probably shall never know; seeing the variant and its persistence is irrefutable so far as it goes.  Studying them closely, one’s sense of knowing individually each of the governors and each of the engravers (“style is the man himself”) is subjective, but it is not false.  Trying to prove a point from such study would be false.   It is only what the coins themselves show that will contribute to further studies.

[1] Pick (1898), p. 362, no. 1288; p. 433, no. 1687, pl. 14, 34–35.

[2] This study owes a great deal to all my teachers and many of my students over a half century but most to the numismatists and collectors who not only have shared their own holdings and in some cases provided photographs but have (most onerous burden of friendship) read it in several successive drafts, helping me to make it accessible to both numismatists and art historians.  The American Numismatic Society may not guess how much an exceptionally unprepared member of the summer seminar (1958) benefited from it.  Besides Doug Smith, who first showed me that [14] is not the only Apollo Sauroktonos on a coin, P. G. Burbules taught me what to look for; both initiated me into Greek Imperials.  Curtis Clay has instructed me unstintingly, answering questions concerning not only Severan coinage but provincial administration.   Charley Rhodes has shared innumerable images and encouraged me through discussions of all kinds; Warren Esty provided the most concrete advice; Barry Murphy saw that I needed help with image preparation and provided it.  None of them is responsible for what they would not themselves have said.  I must single out Liv Yarrow at the Ashmolean Museum and Dr. Günther Demski at the Münzkabinett of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, for exceptional help with unpublished material

[3] Not only did ancient copyists know the statuary types, they probably also had sets of useful piece molds; Chr. Landwehr, Die antiken Gipsabgüsse aus Baiae: Griechische Bronzstatuen in Abgüssen römischer Zeit (Archäologische Forschungen 14), Berlin, 1985; more briefly, an excellent booklet, idem, Griechische Meisterwerke in römischen Abgüssen: Der Fund von Baia, Frankfurt/M, 1985.  P. C. Bol, Antike Bronztechnik: Kunst und Handwerk antiker Erzbildner, Munich, 1985, esp. “Grossbronzen,” pp. 118–172.  From the Baiae casts, we now know that differences, e.g., in the thickness of parts or the angles at which they meet, resulted from the reassembly of sets of piece-molds.  On this subject, see also Carol Mattusch, Classical Bronzes, The Art and Craft of Greek and Roman Statuary, Ithaca, NY, 1996.  As in the case of etchings and engravings, the meaning of ‘original’ varies from one writer to the next.

[4] For that reason, they represent their cities on alliance coinage.

[5] Great prestige had accrued to many ancient images, not only to the Ephesian Artemis but to Didyma’s Apollo by Kanachos and Alexandria Troas’ Apollo Smintheus, for example, which all are represented as stiff as the engraver can make them and are clearly distinguished from Classical and Hellenistic adornments of their famous sanctuaries, the latter usually bronze and sometimes placed in a grove.

[6] For Pliny’s sources, Pollitt (1974). The larger part of the book is a fully annotated glossary of terms, but pp. 1–111 are basic to understanding ancient sources on the arts; idem (1990), pp. 1–9.  Earlier collections and discussions of sources have a less critical point of view.

[7] The Lysippic one may be the Eros of Thespiae or the Eros of Mindos (it is surely the type illustrated by Todisco (1993), pls. 265-266); Praxiteles’ Eros of Parium is actually named on a coin issued for Commodus, Lindgren and Kovacs (1985), no. 275.

[8] The best textual source for the Lykeios statue is Lucian, Anachars. 7, printed by Pick, AMNG I, 1, p. 192, note 2.  Perhaps as an unhappy afterthought (“Fig. A”), the better Louvre copy of the Apollo Lykeios was placed at the head of an article on the Apollo coins of Tarsus (Bekircan Tahberer, “Apollo Lykeios in Ancient Tarsus Numismatics,” Celator, January 2004, pp. 30–38).  The statue in Athens can tell us nothing of why or how Athens came to have a cult with this exotic name; the cult gave its name to a pleasant sanctuary with a school, endowed with the famous statue before the end of the 4th century BC.  Still less has it anything to do with the thorny questions concerning the cult of Apollo Lykeios in Asia Minor, none of which can be broached here.

[9] Overbeck KM (1887), p. 320, middle, no. 25, Gemmentafel 31 (the most relevant example).  Rizzo, pl. 62, 1–2 (4, 14), 62, 3, carnelian intaglio, and 62, 4, sardonyx intaglio, both London, British Museum, whence Picard, 1948, p. 543, fig. 225; LIMC 2, pt. 1, p. 199, 81 (Olga Palagia) adds G. Hoorster, Statuen auf Gemmen (1970), 83–91, pls. 17–19, and J. Maxmin, AAA 3, 1973, 296–298.  She also calls attention to the Athens, Benaki 23722, head, without restorations (found in Kephissia; likely from the Villa of Herodes Atticus), and the heads in Copenhagen, NCG 2330 (F. Poulsen, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek: Ancient Sculpture, p. 75, no. 70a) and Dresden, 197, A. W. Lawrence, Greek and Roman Sculpture, 1972, pl. 47b, both restored, but not the fine torso, Athens, NAM no. 1623, perhaps because the provenience is unknown, but it is unrestored, even preserving stains (not such as result from taking molds for casting); in fact, in the Greco-Roman article on Apollo, which follows, Erika Simon cites the Athens torso as one of the few found in the ‘East’ (which does not imply farther east than Patras) and lists the nine found in or around Rome, remarking the fact that Pliny saw a marble statue, which would not have been the original, either, and neither he nor any other textual source gives even a clue to where the original may have stood.

[10] There are few full-size copies of the Sauroktonos whether in marble or bronze (the Villa Albani statuette is small, and the bronze, full-size, recently acquired by the Cleveland Art Museum is still undergoing technical and stylistic study; even if it fulfills the most sanguine hopes for it, it has no bearing on the study of the coins).  This fact suggests either that the original stood in a town off the main tourist routes, so that sets of molds were comparatively scarce, or that it had been taken to Rome and in unknown circumstances disappeared quite early.  Among the marble copies, the Athens torso, NAM no. 1623,  is unpolished and unretouched.

[11] In addition, the tree trunks of the principal copies are heavily restored and tend to look like tubular pipes, but it is plain that they differed, and the lizards differed, when the copies were made.

[12] Lacroix (1949), p. 307, pl. XXVII, 7; AMNG IV, pp. 65–66, Taf. IV, 15, 24, 31 (reversed); V, 7; Overbeck, KM Apollon, pp. 303–304, Münztafel IV, 41–42.

[13] The boy athlete, conventionally known as the ‘Narcissus’ (Boardman, Greek Sculpture.  The Classical Period, pl. 234, for one of several good copies), for instance, was used in mirror image, adding a bow, as a young Apollo (Varbanov II (Bulgarian edition), p. 170, no. 2276).  The intaglio die makes mirror images unsurprising.

[14] The much discussed intent of this phrase I take to imply that early Hellenistic writers themselves no longer glorified the best artists of their own generations in the same way as those who had worked for Alexander and their predecessors.  By Pliny’s time (and possibly earlier, for a Greek perhaps of later Hellenistic date), a segue-phrase such as ‘then Art ended’, became necessary in their way of thinking.

[15] Most of the dies for the Apollo Lykeios at Marcianopolis, from Commodus to Philip, some unknown to Pick, are now catalogued and illustrated in Hristova and Jekov (2006), where in the numbered classification Apollo is reverse subject 7 (among the more generic Apollo types, but easily distinguished by posture, with the right forearm over his head and the snake on the tree).  Some of these are in temples, reverse subject 46, still plainly identifiable.

[16] Although on many that are also similar to a Rome Bonus Eventus, the ‘twig’ is not much like either grain ears or a laurel twig, some should be a young Apollo.  Besides these, there is Pick 1796, where a good specimen plainly has a laurel twig (this is a statuary pose also used for Hermes, with a kerykeion, or for confronted figures never satisfactorily named); Pick 1735, for Macrinus, 1839, for Diadumenian (different dies, but both with a recurving bow) anticipated by Pick 1796, for Septimius Severus; Pick 1688 (pl. 14, 29) for Macrinus and a matching issue for Diadumenian, both with Apollo leaning on a large Seleucid-like tripod (see Pick’s essay under 1688, p. 434).

[17] Pick (1898), pp. 338–339.

[18] All other things being equal (i.e., that it is ancient), the bronze Sauroktonos acquired by the Cleveland Art Museum (above, note 10) would be such a statue.

[19] Bogdan Filow, JdI 24. 1909, pl. 6. The new excavations concentrated on later parts of the site not excavated in Filow’s time.  Poulter, A. G., 1995, The Roman, Late Roman and Early Byzantine city of Nicopolis ad Istrum: the British Excavations 1985–1992, and, 1999, The Pottery and the Glass. 

[20] For references hereafter, specific to particular issues, see the list of Sauroktonos coins at the end of the text.

[21] For this dating, that of a Serdica inscription that should refer to Antoninus’s 6th tribunician authority, see Pick, AMNG I, 1, p. 331, note 1, and Stein (1920), pp. 18–19.

[22] Lacroix (1949).  Its omission is surprising, since it is RG II, no. 25, pl. 99, 21, and he did include the non-Sauroktonos Apollonia ad Rhyndacum coins.

[23] Stein (1940),

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Myron at Liebieghaus


The photographs in this essay are my own.
The Liebieghaus, the museum of ancient sculpture at Frankfurt am Main, is not the only owner of this bronze group (Copenhagen has one in the park of its Botanical Museum, and the one illustrated in the big picture book, by Boardman, Dörig, Fuchs, and Hirmer, who wrote on the coins as well as making the photos and publishing the German edition, hereafter BDFH*, was captioned 'formerly in Stettin', which city is now in Poland but is easier to spell in German). By now, in the Opera Nobilia blog, we know that first-edition modern bronze casts are all equally original, in this case casts of the reconstruction made under the supervision of Johannes Sieveking. It is one of a number of wonderfully instructive reconstructions created for study between the two 20th-century European wars. I don't know how many exist, but Liebieghaus takes very good care of theirs. Their marble Athena from this group is the principal model for the goddess in the reconstruction.
We have a number of small representations of the group, or something quite like it, but none of the full-size copies were found together as a pair. That they belong together the written sources, also, make plain enough. The group, furthermore, Pausanias Bk. I.24.1, tells us (but see J. J. Pollitt, The Art of Greece, Sources and Documents, 2nd ed., 1990, p. 49, note 6, and the bibliography cited, for 28c, there) was on the Acropolis of Athens. Though born at Eleutherai, Myron certainly was as Athenian as Desiderio da Settignano was Florentine. Though watertight proof is impossible, I stand by the usual identification of this group as that by the famous Myron, not least because of those small 'quotations' of it in other media both the 5th century and in succeeding periods, some of which I can show here, others being shown in G. M. A. Richter's Sculpture and Sculptors of the Greeks (using the prevalent 3rd edition of 1950), hereafter ScSc. I am not so confident of Dörig's judgemnt, but I trust John Boardman, Greek Sculpture: The Classical Period, 1983, figs. 60–64, a great deal, and he accepts, too, what I regard as the obvious attribution (which, therefore, I shall not discuss as such but take for granted).
Also, you can find a wonderful literature on Marsyas. He is no common satyr and evidently in Asia Minor had a cult of his own. In Athenian storytelling, however, he is a foil to Athens' goddess, born from the brow of Zeus, mistress of the Acrocoplis, and all the rest, a true Panaghia, the young virgin goddess who leans on her spear and reads sadly the list of her fallen warriors on a votive stele from the Acropolis where, incidentally, she is dressed as simply as the Liebieghaus Athena (Boardman, Sc:Cl, fig. 41, earlier, smaller, very delicate). Set against her idea, Marsyas is a willful nature spirit. His basic motif seems to have been hybris, a deficient self-knowlege, which in his homeland's myth got him flayed alive by a Scythian slave when he vied with Apollo. The Early Classical Athenian idea is not so fierce: she, simply, holds him in contempt (she even threw away the reed flutes because inflating her girlish cheeks was too gross), because he doesn't hesitate to play them himself. A little oinochoe in Berlin shows the pair of flutes being thrown to the ground (ScSc, fig. 587—and see the coin fig. 588); both of these also show how, startled, he raises his right arm). These flutes, by the way, with double reeds, were the ancestors of oboes and were not confined to Greece. Need I add that you can also find arrant nonsense about Marsyas, about whose myth and cult we really know very little in detail.

So, let us begin with our Athena. Naturally the bronze looks like the marble pointed copy. The molds to make the Athena in the bronze reconstruction were taken from her, just as molds from the original of the 5th century were used to make the plaster-of-Paris model for making the pointed copy. Only, in Sieveking's day, the inset eyes with lashes were based on many fewer surviving examples than we now have, though they did exist. Since it seems always to be rainy when I go to Frankfurt, the statuary is wet, but it would catch light quite differently from the marble, even dry. Here and there the ridge of a drapery fold is discretely restored (sometimes with help from another copy) but nothing more. The slender young goddess as I said is as disdainful as only a maiden girl can be (at least, I think, that is the idea, whether today we'd characterize a noble young girl in those terms).

She is, as I said, dressed very plainly: a woollen peplos of moderate yardage, sensibly overgirt, not with some elaborately embroidered girdle or with one of her Acropolis snakes (and, of course, she is not dressed for war of any kind; she has no aegis) but with a soft belt of the same wool, just like a bathrobe sash, simply knotted in front. What a way to dress a great goddess. There is philosophical and theological thought behind something like this. A goddess dressed not like a girl for a festival or as a bride but in her house-dress, so to speak. Of course, this garb is far more difficult for the foundry workers. I can think of no ancient drapery more difficult to cast than this is, so it had to mean enough to justify the difficulty. I won't get into undocumented Social Studies but merely observe that Myron had to have the stature and respect to get it done: mastery of everyday, casually draped and girded cloth was, to his artistic mind, more important than any other kind of richness. Myron is making high art out of ordinary clothing just as with athletes they make high art out of nakedness. The idea is to really see what is before your eyes. That's quite rare.

Girlish as she is, when you set them among other faces of their generation, the 450s, how similar front views of the Athena's face and that of the Lancelotti Diskobolos (the one with his own head still attached, in the Museo Nazionale Romano) are. For me, this comparison clinches their both being Myron's, notwithstanding both being copies in marble, since both are atypical in just the same ways.
The Athena is not the only helmeted head that shows the cloth that protected the head, and the hair, from the metal helmet, but it is the only one that shows the cloth as sloppy as a little boy's socks or a shirt coming out at the back. Myron makes something out of that cloth.

The Marsyas is a little more complicated in so far as the body is best attested to by two copies in the ex-Lateran collection of the Vatican, and the head and beard by the head (alas, no more than a head ) surviving in the Museo Barracco (you just take the bus up the via Nazionale about as far as Il Gesù, as I recall, to the Museo Barracco). It is a little old palazzo—small for a palazzo. I understand that now the running water is working. If not, they will have moved the sculptures elsewhere. I love it.

Myron did not make the satyr a caricature, but he certainly did study some rustic physiognomy. This image neither mocks nor glorifies the satyr that Athena disdains.
One of the ex-Lateran Marsyas does have its own head, guaranteeing the type of body that the Barracco head once had:

When I last spent an afternoon with the ex-Lateran Marsyas and other fragments, I recall preferring the torso to the whole figure. I cannot with memory and images alone pronounce on them. Of course, no two pointed copies are identical, since they were (at least) finished by hand and probably not at the same time. But the relative fidelity, the shared fidelity, of the Athena and Marsyas copies (though the other Athenas do not have as delightful drapery as the Liebieghaus one (see Liebieghaus Album), are also, in my opinion, some evidence of the fame and importance of the original and its master. Buyers had to pay significantly more for the most painstaking work, I am sure.
When you read about Myron, you will find that most of the testimonia are to the realism of that cow on the Acropolis, all emphasizing the soul, the character, the virtual life (not to say nearly human life) of it—just the kind of blather that tour guides and their disciples use today, and used yesterday: "In the room the women come and go / talking of Michelangelo" (Eliot, Prufrock). Well, it might have been men, only their empty blather would have been in a different key. I think that is why the cow was so famous: it was so easy, rather like talking about Liszt's Les Préludes, to say something or nothing gracefully about it. On the other hand, there can be no doubt about the best observers' admiration, centuries later, for Myron. Lucian, as usual.
I'll try to think of how to manage it. There is a vase-painter, the Penthesileia Painter, usually unlike his famous namepiece (which probably was based on a larger painting). Most of the photos are not mine, but one vase, a skyphos in the Cabinet des Médailles (or wherever now) in Paris, old and not quite sharp, is my own study photo (above).
But just look at the Nike and those three scruffy guys at left on the outside of his cup from Spina. And look at Nike's simple peplos with a sash.
See the other images in the Liebieghaus Album.

*BDFH is The Art and Architecture of Ancient Greece, 1966. It gave Boardman a chance to write on architecture for a change and Hirmer, since he had control of the publication, a chance to write on the coins that he loved so much. Since the photographer-publisher did not have to pay for the use of any of the images (all pre-existing in earlier Hirmer-Verlag books, too), this is one of the glories of the glorious 1960s. Hippies were not the only ones living on the margins of a prosperous society. The great tome was published at a price that most students could afford, too.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

On the Bronze God from Cape Artemision

I always was thinking that I had plenty of images, images of my own choosing, for the vantage point in particular, of this statue, but in fact (like the Charioteer at Delphi) he usually is surrounded by a busload of persons, and when I go through my collection of teaching materials I find that only a few of them are really good. On the other hand, except for Max Hirmer's, I don't really like those in books or on line, either.
It and the little jockey on the enormous horse are not the only statues in the NAM in Athens that come from the sea at Cape Artemision (on the northern tip of Euboea: zoom about halfway up the slide), but if you do a search you get twenty pages of these two statues. So, if my images are, here, not sharp and, there, not to your liking, go get more.
First, in my opinion, the statue stood on a fairly high base in the open, perhaps even as high as the one erected at Thermopylae by the Greek-Americans of Brooklyn, I was told. So, whether he held a thunderbolt or a trident in his right hand, it would NOT cut across his face; even the visitors standing at his feet by his lower base in the Athens museum would not see the shaft of a trident obscure his face. Usually I think of the Artemision God as Zeus, who tends to have more neatly combed hair (though not necessarily so at this date), but there are plenty of vase-paintings and statuettes and decorative plaques attesting to both gods, who, indeed, with Hades were regarded as brothers, the triad ruling sky, earth (with the sea), and the underworld. The little statuettes tend to be from Dodona and do represent Zeus, its god; they also have a more Archaic hair style. Here is one in Berlin:
If Zeus, the statue may have held his eagle on his left hand, as in falconry, but the pose may simply be based on balancing to hurl something. None of the small works has the pose so horizontally extended as the Artemision statue.
Like the Dodona statuette, the coins of Olympia itself (and several other mints), bronzes from before the Pelopponesos became part of the Roman Empire, may show Zeus himself, sometimes with the eagle on his outstretched left hand (as some specimens of this die-pair do):
03 12 10 AE21, 5.23g ~6:30h  Elis, Olympia.  Head of Apollo, laureate, to r.  Zeus hurling thunderbolt, eagle on his outstretched l. hand.
ref. BCD Olympia 293

The great emphasis on the horizontal arms and shoulders and the frontal torso certainly, I think, was of special importance to the sculptor. The vantage point at a diagonal (Schrägansicht) is fine for the modern warrior at Thermopylae, but this one is certainly designed parallel to his base. The back view is so good (if you like great art made of musculature), so perfectly complementary to the front, that I am confident that it was meant to be viewed from either front or back. Like the Discus Thrower by Myron of Eleutherai, known in many copies, though its flanks are beautifully considered, taken as a whole it does not invite your eye to take you around it, and the arms do not 'read' well in the side views. That fact does not make it 'conservative', and its perfect balance (balancing to hurl well) does not actually make it 'static'. It may seem obvious, but in fact it is unique. You will note, by the way, the so-called 'heroic scale', about 20% larger than life-size.
Newer photos, but not full-length:
These encourage our looking at and appreciating the effect of the simplified neck-muscle pattern at the same time as we realize the simplicity of the pronate, outstretched left arm in contrast to the rotation of the right arm, which looks as if it has been carefully studied from athletes (whereas that of the little statuette uses a serviceable Archaic formula). Indeed, this artistic generation is called Early Classical precisely because it very rapidly starts using nature as the raw material for formal ends and using that same taste for reasoned form that governs the development of the architectural Orders in the same period so as to make nature obedient, so to speak. It is the generation just before the Parthenon sculptures; mastery of drapery will ensue.
Closer views, whether digital color or from black-and-white negatives, reinforce looking at statues of the human body, as distinct from looking at photographs, except when the latter also work with the Greek Classical vision, which by fusing empirical study with visual reason effects a transmutation of the natural beauty of a well-grown human body into a work of art of art: we can all at once relish the beauty of our own species and see it embodying the divine. It can be as naked as it is here and inspire awe. I have tested this over and over; even ten-year-old children, even 13-year-old children, are not embarrassed by this statue.
Using a bit of zoom to photograph over the heads of visitors (or, in the case of the black-and-white photo, taken with the fixed-focus 50mm lens and during the winter when one might have the gallery to oneself, except for the guard counting his koumbologia), we can study details.

First, the liners of the eye sockets, which became finely clipped eyelashes, and the eyes themselves, usually made of ivory or other bone and of colored stone, are missing, and so is the layer of rolled pure copper for the color of the lips and the areoles around the nipples, by this date regularly so treated. A statue that had a headband might have gold or silver inlaid maeander patterns on it, and if the lips were parted might show a glimpse of teeth (as we see on the Delphi Charioteer, if you can find a recent enough photo, or on any photo of the head of Riace Warrior A). Again, we notice how the abstracted forms of the pectorals, the rectus abdominis, and the lateral oblique muscles over the arch of the pelvic girdle are simplified and made more clearly structural in formal terms: this is formal beauty utilizing nature, not despising it but certainly not merely imitating it. Greek sculpture always did dote on small parts; Archaic kouroi and korai have perfect fingers and toes even very early, and fingernails (like lions' claws) are a special pleasure. There was a period, Late Archaic, where we have to admit that young men used their razors to refine the shape of the pubic escutcheon, but not here: Zeus or Poseidon is not a boy, and this is not Late Archaic art. Anyway, something more rewarding (since we do not usually think of navels as ornaments—or we didn't when I was young), notice how perfectly studied and rendered the god's navel is, how neatly wrapped above, how perfectly integrated with the abdominal median.
Now, there is another statuary type that, I firmly believe, was created by the same sculptor as the Cape Artemision god. There are a number of copies, but two are practically complete. Englishmen tend to prefer the Choiseul-Gouffier statue in the British Museum, though John Boardman (Greek Sculpture: The Classical Period, nos. 66 and 67) agrees in calling it "duller" (Wiki ought not to call it a 'kouros'). I don't have a proper catalogue at hand, but I suppose that it was bought at Rome, in spite of Ch-G's time in Istambul. I should think that it wasn't made in Athens, where, yes, a number of "Roman Copies" were made. Copies made in Athens often show features that the studio could observe from statues actually standing there. The "Omphalos Apollo", though the omphalos found near by does NOT belong to the statue, was found in the Theater of Dionysos in Athens, and, though it is a marble copy, certainly from a bronze, its maker preserved the tense eleasticity of the body forms. Its face, too, though of a young god, is alert and unique, not generalized like that of the Ch-G Apollo.
Here are front views of the heads:

It is the "Omphalos" copy that renders the metallic character of the hair and the almost mischievous, quite particular, face of this Apollo. And notice the eyes; they aren't the heavy-lidded eyes of most Roman copies (remember that in taking molds they had to cover the inset eyes and eyelashes, so they always had to be done rather generically).
In profile, too, we see that the "Omphalos" copy is familiar with an original bronze:

It is true that the "Omphalos" has lost its nose, but just compare his smiling profile with the generically classical one of the Ch-G (the reason so many copies from Rome look like Canova is that the latter learned being Classical before he saw the Parthenon sculptures). Most of all, the Ch-G has hair rendered as if molded from cooky dough, whereas the carver of the "Omphalos" managed to make marble look rather like hair and wisps fade into the surface of the marble neck.
I don't have exactly comparable images of the whole statues, but here are what I can offer, and you can go to the Album for a few more.

What I can show you, I hope, is that the hair of the "Omphalos" copy is profoundly similar, in spite of being a marble copy, to that of the Cape Artemision god:

and the body is knit together in the same way (I don't know how else to describe it). Also, unless they have moved both statues again, you can stand against the wall behind the "Omphalos" Apollo and consider the back view of the Cape Artemision god about three meters away (you have to use wide-angle to record this at all). The back and the buttocks and the legs, especially the thigh-knee-calf articulation of the flexed leg are, in my opinion, just alike.
Now I notice that some of the professors' notes on .edu web pages try to tell you the name of the great sculptor who did the Cape Artemision god. But, for example, we aren't even sure which generation (before or after mid-century) Kalamis worked in. Onatas also is a famous name. So is Hegias. But the 'knowledge' that we have of them is purely verbal and awfully brief, like Facts on File stuff. It is safe to say that a great sculptor created the Cape Artemision god, but it is trivial at best to try to stick one of the names that we have on him. It is just as silly as arguing over whether he is Zeus or Poseidon (especially since we don't know where the statue stood before it was wrenched from its base and put on a ship).
Spend your time instead, I always said in lecture, in studying as many photographs as you can find of the statue and trying to get inside the mind of its maker, until you can go to Athens and see it (if you go in January, you might even have him to yourself for a few minutes, but remember that in the winter the museums keep shorter hours).
Finally, here is a detail from the big amphora that is the namepiece of the Achilles Painter; it represents, in fact, Achilles himself. It seems to me to have a similar ideal of character to the Artemision god.
(to avoid risk of copyright, not sure where my image came from, I have substituted a link to an archive that seems to use the same image).