Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.15.1-1.15.3

[1] ἰοῦσι δὲ πρὸς τὴν στοάν, ἣν Ποικίλην ὀνομάζουσιν ἀπὸ τῶν γραφῶν, ἔστιν Ἑρμῆς χαλκοῦς καλούμενος Ἀγοραῖος καὶ πύλη πλησίον: ἔπεστι δέ οἱ τρόπαιον Ἀθηναίων ἱππομαχίᾳ κρατησάντων Πλείσταρχον, ὃς τῆς ἵππου Κασσάνδρου καὶ τοῦ ξενικοῦ τὴν ἀρχὴν ἀδελφὸς ὢν ἐπετέτραπτο. αὕτη δὲ ἡ στοὰ πρῶτα μὲν Ἀθηναίους ἔχει τεταγμένους ἐν Οἰνόῃ τῆς Ἀργεία; ἐναντία Λακεδαιμονίων: γέγραπται δὲ οὐκ ἐς ἀκμὴν ἀγῶνος οὐδὲ τολμημάτων ἐς ἐπίδειξιν τὸ ἔργον ἤδη προῆκον, ἀλλὰ ἀρχομένη τε ἡ μάχη καὶ ἐς χεῖρας ἔτι συνιόντες. [2] ἐν δὲ τῷ μέσῳ τῶν τοίχων Ἀθηναῖοι καὶ Θησεὺς Ἀμαζόσι μάχονται. μόναις δὲ ἄρα ταῖς γυναιξὶν οὐκ ἀφῄρει τὰ πταίσματα τὸ ἐς τοὺς κινδύνους ἀφειδές, εἴ γε Θεμισκύρας τε ἁλούσης ὑπὸ Ἡρακλέους καὶ ὕστερον φθαρείσης σφίσι τῆς στρατιᾶς, ἣν ἐπ᾽ Ἀθήνας ἔστειλαν, ὅμως ἐς Τροίαν ἦλθον Ἀθηναίοις τε αὐτοῖς μαχούμεναι καὶ τοῖς πᾶσιν Ἕλλησιν. ἐπὶ δὲ ταῖς Ἀμαζόσιν Ἕλληνές εἰσιν ᾑρηκότες Ἴλιον καὶ οἱ βασιλεῖς ἠθροισμένοι διὰ τὸ Αἴαντος ἐς Κασσάνδραν τόλμημα: καὶ αὐτὸν ἡ γραφὴ τὸν Αἴαντα ἔχει καὶ γυναῖκας τῶν αἰχμαλώτων ἄλλας τε καὶ Κασσάνδραν. [3] τελευταῖον δὲ τῆς γραφῆς εἰσιν οἱ μαχεσάμενοι Μαραθῶνι: Βοιωτῶν δὲ οἱ Πλάταιαν ἔχοντες καὶ ὅσον ἦν Ἀττικὸν ἴασιν ἐς χεῖρας τοῖς βαρβάροις. καὶ ταύτῃ μέν ἐστιν ἴσα τὰ παρ᾽ ἀμφοτέρων ἐς τὸ ἔργον: τὸ δὲ ἔσω τῆς μάχης φεύγοντές εἰσιν οἱ βάρβαροι καὶ ἐς τὸ ἕλος ὠθοῦντες ἀλλήλους, ἔσχαται δὲ τῆς γραφῆς νῆές τε αἱ Φοίνισσαι καὶ τῶν βαρβάρων τοὺς ἐσπίπτοντας ἐς ταύτας φονεύοντες οἱ Ἕλληνες. ἐνταῦθα καὶ Μαραθὼν γεγραμμένος ἐστὶν ἥρως, ἀφ᾽ οὗ τὸ πεδίον ὠνόμασται, καὶ Θησεὺς ἀνιόντι ἐκ γῆς εἰκασμένος Ἀθηνᾶ τε καὶ Ἡρακλῆς: Μαραθωνίοις γάρ, ὡς αὐτοὶ λέγουσιν, Ἡρακλῆς ἐνομίσθη θεὸς πρώτοις. τῶν μαχομένων δὲ δῆλοι μάλιστά εἰσιν ἐν τῇ γραφῇ Καλλίμαχός τε, ὃς Ἀθηναίοις πολεμαρχεῖν ᾕρητο, καὶ Μιλτιάδης τῶν στρατηγούντων, ἥρως τε Ἔχετλος καλούμενος, οὗ καὶ ὕστερον ποιήσομαι μνήμην.

As you go to the portico which they call painted, because of its pictures, there is a bronze statue of Hermes of the Market-place, and near it a gate. On it is a trophy erected by the Athenians, who in a cavalry action overcame Pleistarchus, to whose command his brother Cassander had entrusted his cavalry and mercenaries. This portico contains, first, the Athenians arrayed against the Lacedaemonians at Oenoe in the Argive territory. What is depicted is not the crisis of the battle nor when the action had advanced as far as the display of deeds of valor, but the beginning of the fight when the combatants were about to close. [2] On the middle wall are the Athenians and Theseus fighting with the Amazons. So, it seems, only the women did not lose through their defeats their reckless courage in the face of danger; Themiscyra was taken by Heracles, and afterwards the army which they dispatched to Athens was destroyed, but nevertheless they came to Troy to fight all the Greeks as well as the Athenians them selves. After the Amazons come the Greeks when they have taken Troy, and the kings assembled on account of the outrage committed by Ajax against Cassandra. The picture includes Ajax himself, Cassandra and other captive women. [3] At the end of the painting are those who fought at Marathon; the Boeotians of Plataea and the Attic contingent are coming to blows with the foreigners. In this place neither side has the better, but the center of the fighting shows the foreigners in flight and pushing one another into the morass, while at the end of the painting are the Phoenician ships, and the Greeks killing the foreigners who are scrambling into them. Here is also a portrait of the hero Marathon, after whom the plain is named, of Theseus represented as coming up from the under-world, of Athena and of Heracles. The Marathonians, according to their own account, were the first to regard Heracles as a god. Of the fighters the most conspicuous figures in the painting are Callimachus, who had been elected commander-in-chief by the Athenians, Miltiades, one of the generals, and a hero called Echetlus, of whom I shall make mention later. (trans. Jones, Litt and Ormerod 1918).

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15. 1. Sur le chemin du portique qu'on appelle Poecile à cause des peintures qu'il contient, on trouve un Hermès de Bronze appelé Hermès Agoraios, et près de là, une porte surmontée d'un trophée élevé en commémoration de la victoire que la cavalerie athénienne remporta sur Pleistarchos auquel Kassandros son frère avait confié le commandement de la cavalerie et de ses soldats étrangers. La première peinture du portique représente les Athéniens rangés en ligne contre les Lacédémoniens à Oinoé en Argolide. Le peintre n'a pas figuré le fort de la mêlée ; il ne s'est fait encore aucune action d'éclat ; mais la bataille s'engage et l'on commence à en venir aux mains. 2. Sur le mur du milieu se trouve le combat de Thésée et des Athéniens contre les Amazones. Ces femmes sont les seules que la défaite n'a pas empêché d'affronter de nouveaux dangers ; car, malgré la prise de Thémiscyre par Héraklès et la destruction de l'armée qu'elles envoyèrent plus tard contre Athènes, elles ne laissèrent pas d'aller à Troie combattre les Athéniens et le reste des Grecs. Après les Amazones, on voit les Grecs qui viennent de prendre Troie ; les rois sont assemblés au sujet de l'attentat commis par Ajax sur Cassandre : on voit Ajax lui-même, Cassandre et d'autres captives. 3. La dernière partie de la peinture a pour sujet la bataille de Marathon. Les Béotiens de Platée et toute l'armée des Athéniens sont aux prises avec les barbares. Sur ce point, l'affaire est encore indécise ; en-dehors de la mêlée on voit les barbares s'enfuir et se jeter pêle-mêle dans le marais. On aperçoit, à l'extrémité, la flotte phénicienne et les Grecs massacrant les Perses qui tâche d'y monter. Là, sont aussi représentés le héros Marathon qui a donné son nom à la plaine, Thésée qui paraît sortir de terre, enfin, Athéna et Héraklès. En effet, les Marathoniens prétendent être les premiers qui aient rendu à Héraklès les honneurs divins. Parmi les combattants, les plus en vue dans ce tableau sont Kallimachos alors polémarque des Athéniens, le stratège Miltiade et le héros Echetlos dont j'aurais plus tard occasion de parler. (trad. A. Reinach 1921).

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Commentary

Pausanias, I, 15.1-3. The paintings at the Stoa Poikile.

  1. The Hermes Agoraios was a very well-known bronze sculpture which was marking one of the main entry of the North-West side of the Agora (Pausanias 1992, p. 179 ; Siebert, LIMC V sv. "Hermes", pp. 376-377). The trophy mentioned by Pausanias commemorated the victory of the Athenian cavalry of Demetrius Poliorcetes over Pleistarchos, general and brother of Kassandros, in 304/3 B.C. (Pausanias 1992, ibid; Ferguson 1948, p. 129; Robert & Robert 1984, 176, pp. 433-436; Gauthier et al. 1988, 601, p. 390).

  2. On the Stoa Poikile ("the painted portico") see commentaries on texts 113, 114 and 115. Since the building was erected around 470-460 BC (Shear 1984, p. 18; Camp 2007, pp. 649-651; Roscino 2010, pp. 29-31), the paintings which decorated the Stoa dated ca. 465-460 B.C (L. Fiorni proposes a date after 457 B.C. For him the whole figurative program was made to rehabilitate the political figure of Kimon after his ostracism. See: Cruciani & Fiorini 1998, p. 19-76). According to archaeological analysis, it is very likely that the paintings were on removable wood panels, hung or inserted into the wall ( texts 114 and 142; Meritt 1970, pp. 253-258; Shear 1984, pp. 18-19; Stansbury-O’Donnell 2005, p. 74). It seems that the paintings were hung on the back wall of the Stoa, and maybe on the West wall (Wycherley 1957, p. 40; Stansbury-O’Donnell 2005, p. 76). The technique used remains unknown : encaustic or tempera ? Both are likely on wood panels. Unfortunately, nothing is said in the sources. The paintings respond to an iconographical program linked to the Athenian political propaganda of the 470s-460s BC (Bollansée 1991). Most agrees to say that the Stoa Poikile was a "Kimonian building" focusing on Kimon and his family's deeds (Jeffery 1965, p. 42; Delvoye 1975; Castriota 1992, p. 78-79; Cruciani & Fiorini 1998, p. 49-76; Stansbury-O’Donnell 2005; Castriota 2005; Roscino 2010, p. 36-37). This supposes a close collaboration between the painters which decorated the Stoa Poikile: Polygnotos, Mikon and Panainos (Wycherley 1957, p. 45). Since C. Robert, everyone agrees to say that Pausanias starts his description by the left side of the Stoa towards the right side (Robert 1895). The paintings are described in order of appearance : the "Battle of Oinoe", the "Amazonomachy", "Troy taken" and the "Battle of Marathon".

  3. "The Oinoe Battle ". According to Pausanias, the painting shows two armies preparing for battle, the Athenians and the Spartans, at Argive Oinoe. This battle is also mentioned by Pausanias in Book 10, 10.3 about a sculpture of the "Seven against Thebes" by Hypatodoros and Aristogeiton (Reinach 1921, p. 137-138; Muller-Dufeu 2002, pp. 443-445, esp. text 1301). The painting has raised a lot of question among scholars, for two reasons : the painting does not seems to fit with the other three (Amazonomachy, Ilioupersis and Marathon) and Thucydides did not speak about this battle in his telling of the Pentecontaetia (good state of the question in Cruciani & Fiorini 1998, p. 33-36 and 49-56). But some historians have shown that Thucydides' chronology of the “almost fifty years” is not very accurate at some points (Badian 1993, pp. 73-107; Schreiner 1993; Luginbill 2014, p. 279 and 288-290). Thus, many solutions have been proposed, but none is conclusive. First, did Pausanias made a mistake and misinterpreted the painting? According to Francis and Vickers for example, Pausanias mistook the Argive Oinoe with the Marathonian Oinoe. Thus, the painting would describe the meeting between Athenians and Plateans before the Battle of Marathon (Francis & Vickers 1985). Or secondly, is the painting a later addition from the 420-410's BC alluding to the beginning of the Peloponnesian War? If this is so, the "Battle of Oinoe" does not belong to the original painting program of the Stoa Poikile (Jeffery 1965, pp. 47-57; Bollansée 1991; Develin 1993; Stansbury-O’Donnell 2005, pp. 78-81). And thirdly, as R. Luginbill states (Luginbill 2014), the Battle of Oinoe took place ca. 462-457 BC. (right before the battle of Tanagra) and Thucydides omitted -on purpose or not- this battle in his "Peloponesian Wars". So, the painting of the battle was hung as a replacement of another painting, the "Suppliant Heracleidae" (painting mentioned in Aristophanes, Plutus, 382-385 (text 322) and text 197; see : Jeffery 1965, p. 46). This, after the ostracism of Kimon in 462/61 BC., as part of the Athenian political propaganda against Sparta (Luginbill 2014, pp. 282-288; the idea of a replacement as political propaganda was also suggest by Bollansée 1991, p. 125 and De Angelis 1996, p. 165-166).

  4. The Amazonomachy (Devambez and Kauffmann-Samaras, LIMC I s.v. “Amazones”, pp. 586-653, esp. Amazones 230). The painting is attributed to Mikon (see texts 135 to 167) according to Aristophanes (text 136 and 135) and Arrian (text 137). The painting recalls the new tradition about the myth of the Amazons, as a group of invaders attacking Athens to avenge the rape of Antiope/Hippolyte, queen of the Amazones (see Aesch. Eum 685-690; Hdt. 9.27.4; Gantz 1993, p. 282-285). The same episode, maybe painted by Mikon too, decorated the Theseion in Athens (see text 117). The painting aims to show the bravery and tenacity of Theseus and his men against the feminine invaders, pointing out the contrast between Athenians and Asian warriors i.e. bravery and tenacity vs. cowardice and boundless ambition. A voluntary parallel is made between the Amazons and the Persians pictured on the painting of the Battle of Marathon (Boardman 1982; Tyrrell 1984, p. 11-13; Castriota 1992, p. 76-89; Castriota 2005, p. 91-96).

  5. The Ilioupersis" (Pipili, LIMC VIII s.v. "Ilioupersis", pp. 650-657). The painting is a work by Polygnotos of Thasos (see texts 100-101) according to Plutarch (text 106). Polygnotos painted another Ilioupersis at the Cnidian Lesche (see text 107a). Here, Pausanias gives a less detailed description; but, it seems that both paintings were quite similar. Pausanias mentioned only the assembly of the Greek chiefs concerning the outrage of Aias towards Kassandra. The wives of the Trojans prisoners were also figured. Among the Trojan women, Polygnotos painted Laodike (Priams' daughter. See LIMC VI sv. Laodike II 2, p. 192 = Akamas et Demophon 10) after Elpinike, his own lover and Kimon's sister (text 106). These iconographical choices show the political orientation of the painting as part of the glorification of Kimon and Athens. The dating of the painting is not sure, in one hand some think that the painting was executed after the Ilioupersis at Delphi and after the ostracism of Kimon in 462/61 BC (Meritt 1970, p. 256-257; Kebric 1983, p. 14-32; Castriota 1992, p. 76-78; Cruciani & Fiorini 1998, p. 59-71). Or, in other hand, the painting was made before the Ilioupersis at the Cnidian Lesche, ca. 465 BC., and therefore before the ostracism of Kimon (Stansbury-O'Donnell 2005, p. 82; Roscino 2010, p. 36). According to Pliny and Plutarch, Polygnotos worked for free at the Stoa Poikile, maybe as a thanking for his Athenian citizenship (see texts 100, 101 and 106; Kebric 1983, pp. 33-36; Stansbury-O'Donnell 2005, ibid). Two main meanings were proposed, regarding the other paintings decorating the Stoa Poikile. First, the Ilioupersis is a "transparent metaphor" of the battle of the Greek against the Persians, the West against the East (Castriota 1992, p. 101-118). And secondly, as G. Ferrari, proposes, the Ilioupersis, especially regarding the iconographical program of the Parthenon's Metopes, was a metaphor of a wrongful conquest, paralleling the actions of the Persians during the Sack of Athens (in 480 B.C), just as the Achaeans did when they took Troy (Ferrari 2000, p. 126-143).

  6. "The Battle of Marathon" (more in texts 141 to 155). Pausanias does not give the name of the painter; but, in book 5 of the Periegesis (text 163) he mentioned that the Marathonomachy at the Stoa Poikile was a work by Panainos (see texts 162 to 168), Phidias' brother or nephew (Pausanias 1992, pp. 180-181. See also text 164 and Strabo, 8, 354). Others texts say that the painter was Mikon (see texts 137 and 141). It is likely that the painting was the result of the collaboration between the two painters (more in Wycherley 1957, p. 39-41). According to Pausanias' testimony, the painting was divided into three parts : 1) the arrival of the Plataeans and the battle (see texts 144a and 144b); 2) the retreat of the Persians into the marshes and the Greek pursuit; 3) the Greeks trying to stop the Persians to flight into their ships. The description is very close to the story given by Herodotus of the Battle of Marathon (Herodotus, 6.110-117). It is likely that Herodotus has seen the painting in the Stoa, and maybe used it for his telling of the battle (Jeffery 1965; Massaro 1978). Pausanias does not give a lot of details, but according to him, the main historical characters were painted: Miltiades, Kimon's father, urging the Greek troops (see also texts 147 to 150; Harrison 1972, pp. 356-357); the polemarch Kallimachos (see text 151; Harrison 1972, pp. 358-365). Divinities and heroes were also represented : Athena, Herakles, Theseus and the heroes Marathon and Echetlos.According to Lucian (text 145) Choricius (text 146) and Himerios (text 152), Cynaegirus (Aeschylus' brother and one of the Athenian generals. Plut.Para. 1) and Boutes were also painted. The meaning of the painting must be related to the three other paintings, especially the Amazonomachy and the Ilioupersis (since the Oinoe Battle remains an issue). The painting glorify the exemplar behavior of the Athenians (and their allies), against the Persian invader, during one of the greatest battle and victory of the Persian Wars (Loraux 1973; de Angelis 1996, p. 146-157; Sfyroeras 2013).

  7. One must think about the entire iconographical program of the Stoa as a "logos epitaphios ", a funeral oration, which join together, the mythical and historical past of Athens in order to glorify the democratic ideology of the time and especially the Athenian ethos (Loraux 1973; Loraux 1981; Bollansée 1991, p. 115-125; Castriota 1992, p. 76-89, 130-133; Flashar 1996; de Angelis 1996, p. 144-145, 158-163)

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Annotation Authors and Editors
Created by Valérie Toillon