Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.18.1

τὸ δὲ ἱερὸν τῶν Διοσκούρων ἐστὶν ἀρχαῖον, αὐτοί τε ἑστῶτες καὶ οἱ παῖδες καθήμενοί σφισιν ἐφ᾽ ἵππων. ἐνταῦθα Πολύγνωτος μὲν ἔχοντα ἐς αὐτοὺς ἔγραψε γάμον τῶν θυγατέρων τῶν Λευκίππου, Μίκων δὲ τοὺς μετὰ Ἰάσονος ἐς Κόλχους πλεύσαντας: καί οἱ τῆς γραφῆς ἡ σπουδὴ μάλιστα ἐς Ἄκαστον καὶ τοὺς ἵππους ἔχει τοὺς Ἀκάστου.

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Le sanctuaire des Dioscures est ancien. Ils sont eux-mêmes représentés debout alors que leurs fils sont à cheval. Ici, Polygnote a peint les noces des filles de Leukippos, ce qui appartient à l'histoire de ces dieux, et Mikon a peint ceux qui ont fait voile pour Kolchos avec Jason; et il a le plus porté son attention sur Acastos et ses chevaux. (Trad. Reinach modifiée).

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Commentary

  1. The Anakeion was the Athenian shrine of the Dioskouroi ("the young men of Zeus"), the twins Kastor ("tamer of horses") and Polydeukes ("good with his fists"), brothers of Helene and sons of Tyndareos/Zeus and Leda (Souda s.v. Anakeion; Theodoretos, Therapeutika VIII, 115.10; LIMC III, s.v. Dioskouroi, pp. 567-568; Gantz 1993, pp. 323-328). According to ancient testimonies, the Anakeion was situated on the east slope of the Athenian Acropolis, below the "temenos" (sacred precinct) of Aglauros, near the Prytaneion (Lucian, Piscator 42; Robertson 1998, pp. 295-298; Schmalz 2006, pp. 35-36, fig. 1; pp. 40-42, fig. 5). According to Pausanias, the shrine was ancient -"archaios"- and Polyainos indicates the existence of the Anakeion in the middle of the sixth century B.C. (Polyainos, I. 21.2; on Pausanias and the past: Arafat 2004, pp. 43-79, esp. pp. 58-75). It was probably a vast sacred place, at least, sufficiently large for hosting armed musters and assemblies. Furthermore, slaves were hired at the Anakeion (Andocides, I. (On mysteries) 45; Thucydide 8, 93.1; Demosthenes, 45 (Stephanos I), 80; Wycherley 1957, pp. 61-65; Travlos 1980, pp. 578-579; Chamoux in Pausanias 1992, p. 185; Roscino 2010, p. 18-19). The Dioskouroi were essentially Spartan divinities, where they were honored as "Tyndarides". In Athens they were honored as "Anakes" or "Anaktes," the "Lords" or "Great Gods" (Paus. 10. 38.7; Hemberg 1955). The Dioskouroi were mostly renowned as "benefactors" and "saviors" (euergetas kai soteres), especially for sailors, showing themselves in an epiphany as lightning or stars. The main ritual for honoring the Dioskouroi was the theoxenia, a sacred feast during which the epiphany of the divine twins - as horsemen riding white horses - was expected (Hom. Hymn. 33 "To the Dioskouroi"; Lorenz 1992; Shapiro 1999; ThesCRA II, Banquet, pp. 226-229; Burkert 2011, pp. 154-155, 290-292). The Anakeion was probably an archaic building (maybe erected in the mid sixth century B.C.) which had been restored and decorated later, during the first third of the fifth century B.C. Another theory is that the Anakeion was a "Kimonian" building, erected ca. 470-460 B.C. to commemorate the Skyros expedition of 474/3 B.C. (on this point see text 117; Schmalz 2006, pp. 40-42; Roscino 2010, pp. 5, 18-22). But ancient testimonies, especially archaic vase-painting, attest the existence of a cult of the Dioskouroi in Athens as early as the middle of the sixth century B.C. Therefore, it seems reasonable to consider the Anakeion as an Archaic building which was redecorated during the 470/60's B.C., certainly under the initiative of Kimon (Hermary 1978; Shapiro 1989; Lorenz 1992; Shapiro 1999).

  2. After mentioning the cult statue of the twins with their sons Anaxis and Mansinos (also figured on the Amyklai throne: Paus. 3.18.13; in Apollodoros' Library their sons are Anogon and Mnesileos: Ap.3.11.2; see Gantz 1993, pp. 324-325), Pausanias described the paintings which decorated the shrine: the wedding of the Leukippides and the Argonauts. These paintings were related to the divinities venerated into the shrine, illustrating the most significant exploit of their life. The paintings were the result of collaboration between the painters Polygnotos and Mikon (Brunn 1889, pp. 16-17; Moormann 2011, pp. 12-13).

  3. Reinach’s text reads: “συγχέοντας αὐτοὺς,” following a correction suggested in a footnote by Hermann Hitzig in the critical apparatus of his edition of Description of Greece, aiming primarily at making Pausanias’s text correspond to the story of the Leukippides as it is known from their iconography and the surviving mythological accounts (Hitzig 1896, p. 37). It needs to be noted, though, that at the time of Reinach this was not the only critical edition available to scholars working on Pausanias. Neither Dindorf’s Greek-Latin edition in 1845 nor Schubart’s classical edition in 1853 can be considered critical (cf. Dindorf 1845, p. 24; Schubart 1853, p. 36), but this minor modern correction of the original text which Reinach chose to use goes against the Teubner critical edition available already since 1903 which provided the only reading attested in manuscripts: “ἔχοντα ἐς αὐτοὺς” (Spiro 1903, p. 43; all critical editions ever since follow the latter reading without exception: Jones 1918, p. 86; Musti 1982, p. 90; Rocha-Pereira 1989, p. 37; Casevitz in Pausanias 1992, p. 95). In the critical apparatus of the revised Teubner edition another correction is included, suggested in late 1930s (Cazzaniga 1938-9, p. 103), which has also failed to gain acceptance: “ἔχοντα ἐς ἄγοντας” (Rocha-Pereira 1989, p. 37).

  4. "Wedding of the Leukippides" (LIMC III s.v. Dioskouroi 192). The painting was a work by Polygnotos. Pausanias does not give any further details about the painting. The Leukippides, Phoibe and Hilaeira, were the daughters of Leukippos, an uncle of the Dioskouroi. The maidens were promised to the Apharetidai (Idas and Lynkeus, sons of Aphareus), cousins of the Dioskouroi. The common tale is that the twins abducted the Leukippides during their wedding feast (Gantz 1993, pp. 324-325). The subject is known in ancient art especially in red-figure vases of the classical period (ca. 430-400 B.C.), but there are few representations (LIMC III s.v. Dioskouroi, pp. 590-591). The painting of Polygnotos seems to depict a wedding scene rather than the abduction, at least a calmer scene than the violent rapture mentioned in literary sources and represented on vase-painting. In fact, Pausanias uses the word "gamos" to speak about the scene painted by Polygnotos, which refers unambiguously to a wedding. Maybe the wedded couple was pictured on a chariot, common for wedding scenes in ancient iconography (Schefold and Jung 1988, pp. 28-32; Oakley and Sinos 1993, pp. 43-47; Roscino 2010, p. 20). The choice to paint a calm scene, a wedding, fits well with Polygnotos' art. Indeed, the painter was renowned as a "painter of character" ("ethographos"), preferring more introspective scenes to violent action (see texts 107a-b, 129, 130, 131, 132, 133).

  5. "The Argonauts". (LIMC II s.v. Argonautai 25, pp. 591-599) The painting was a work by Mikon. Pausanias does not describe the painting and barely mentions the subject: "those who sailed to Kolchis with Iason" which alludes to the Argonauts. The Argonauts were the companions of Iason who sailed with him on the ship "Argo" to Colchis (on the East coast of the Black Sea, modern-day Georgia), aiming to take the Golden Fleece. The Dioskouroi are in the list of the Argonauts conveyed by Pherekydes and Pindar, and are also depicted on the ship metope of the Sikyonian Treasury at Delphi, dating around the middle of the sixth century B.C. (Pind. Pyth. 4.171-183; Gantz 1993, pp. 343-345). Mikon’s painting aroused interest among scholars and multiple solutions have been considered concerning the subject of the Argonauts' painting, amongst which notably: a) the funerary games for Pelias (king of Iolchos, twin brother of Neleus) since Pausanias mentioned the Peliades (daughters of Pelias) in Book 8 of the Periegesis, maybe in reference to this painting (see text156; Simon in LIMC VII s.v. Argonautai 25 = Peliades 16; LIMC VII s.v. Peliou athla, pp. 277-280, esp. Peliou athla 9). This hypothesis would also explain the presence of Akastos (Pelias' son) and his horses, on which Mikon has emphasized (according to Pausanias testimony). Moreover, in several works of art, Akastos appears as a spectator or arbiter at Pelias' games and was listed among the Argonauts (Gantz 1993, p. 194). b) the wrestling of Polydeukes and Amykos (LIMC II s.v. Argonautai 9-10; LIMC I s.v. Amykos, pp. 739-742). Amykos was the son of Poseidon and the king of the country of the Bebrykes (Bithynia, Asia Minor), who challenged all the new comers to a boxing-match. Amykos challenges Polydeukes - who wants to drink from a spring – to a boxing match and loses. Then Polydeukes, assisted by his brother, makes him promise to never again abuse strangers. On a hydria in Paris (Cabinet des Médailles 442) Amykos is shown bound to a rock, in punishment, and on the Etruscan “Ficoroni cist” (ca. 350-330 B.C.) bound to a tree; the story appears also in Epicharmos lost comedy and perhaps in Sophocles lost satyr play (Epicharmos, fr. 6,7 Kaibel; Weis 1982; Gantz 1993, pp. 347-349). Subsequently, some scholars have suggested that the lost play of Sophocles had inspired Mikon's painting at the Anakeion, and subsequently the pictures on the Hydria in Paris and the "Ficoroni cist" (Howe 1957; Dohrn 1972, pp. 28-40; Rebuffat-Emmanuel 1975, pp. 76-78). But as A. Weiss has shown, the “adligatur” motive (person bound to a tree) belongs purely to fourth century B.C. central Italy and, to our knowledge, no Greek model of this type is known (Weis 1982). While all those aforementioned hypotheses are seducing, in the absence of a more specific description of the painting, it seems more judicious not to relate Mikon's painting to any other works of art. In fact, we know nothing about the Argonauts painting at the Anakeion, only that Akastos and his horses were depicted in a very detailed way.

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Annotation Authors and Editors
Created by Valérie Toillon
Contributors:
  • Spyridon Loumakis