Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.28.2

χωρὶς δὲ ἢ ὅσα κατέλεξα δύο μὲν Ἀθηναίοις εἰσὶ δεκάται πολεμήσασιν, ἄγαλμα Ἀθηνᾶς χαλκοῦν ἀπὸ Μήδων τῶν ἐς Μαραθῶνα ἀποβάντων τέχνη Φειδίου—καί οἱ τὴν ἐπὶ τῆς ἀσπίδος μάχην Λαπιθῶν πρὸς Κενταύρους καὶ ὅσα ἄλλα ἐστὶν ἐπειργασμένα λέγουσι τορεῦσαι Μῦν, τῷ δὲ Μυῒ ταῦτά τε καὶ τὰ λοιπὰ τῶν ἔργων Παρράσιον καταγράψαι τὸν Εὐήνορος

In addition to the works I have mentioned, there are two tithes dedicated by the Athenians after having fought at wars. There is first a bronze statue of Athena, tithe from the Persians who landed at Marathon. It is the work of Pheidias, but the fight between Centaurs and Lapiths and whatever else is sculptured upon the shield, are said to be from the chisel of Mys, for whom this and the rest of his works were designed by Parrhasius the son of Euenor.

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En outre des objets que j'ai énumérés, deux offrandes ont été dédiées par les Athéniens, provenantes de la dîme du butin fait à la guerre. C'est d'abord une statue d’Athéna en bronze, prélevée sur les dépouilles des Mèdes, débarqués à Marathon. Le travail est de Phidias, mais les figures du bouclier représentant le combat des Lapithes et des Centaures, ainsi que les autres sujets qui y sont gravés ont été exécutés par Mys d'après les dessins de Parrhasios, fils d'Éuénor, comme toutes ses autres œuvres.

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Commentary

  1. The bronze sculpture in question is the "Athena Promachos" by Pheidias which appears on several coins dated ca. 460-450 BC. However, it is clear that the sculpture itself was made before 450 BC (IG I2 338; FGE, 1852-1853; Lippold, G., RE, 19.2, 1924-25; Meritt, 1936, p. 362; LIMC II s.v. Athena 145, p. 1030). According to Brunn, the shield (probably done in silver) was made separately at a later date – maybe added around 430 BC (Brunn, 1889, I, p. 128-129; Reinach, 1921, p. 239), but no later than this date, because Pheidias died around 428 BC according to a scholion on Aristophanes' Pax, 605 (Muller-Dufeu, 794 = SQ 629). The battle between Centaurs and Lapiths pictured on the shield was a common subject for the second half of the fifth century BC., made popular, among others, by Mikon's painting at the Theseion (see text 117). The scene is referring to the battle against the Centaurs during a feast at Peirithoos' house -probably his wedding feast- at which Theseus was a guest. Peirithoos was Theseus' friend and king of Lapiths in Thessaly (Gantz 1993, pp. 277-282; LIMC VIII s.v. “Kentauroi et kentaurides” pp. 671-706). Centauromachies are, in ancient art, metaphors for the struggle against the barbarians (Persians) and, in a more general sense, for everything which is outside/different/distant in space and time (DuBois 1991, pp. 25-31). But centauromachies are also a reminding of the complexity of human condition with its inner struggles. The aim of such a theme is to highlight the ideal of Athenians values such as self-control (sophrôsune) and respect for human and divine laws. Centaurs act as the paradigm of bestiality (sexual assault and brutality), opposed in everything to Athenian values, especially in their hostility towards legal marriage (Woodford 1974; DuBois 1991, pp. 28-30; Castriota 1992, pp. 34-43). In this context, Athena as a tutelary divinity ("Promachos"), appears as protector of Athenian values (embodied by Theseus) against all enemies (foreign and domestic).
  2. Mys was a famous toreute (Pliny, XXXIII, 154-157; PAA. 663415; maybe 663410) who, according to ancient literature, worked with Pheidias and Parrhasius (Pliny, NH, XXXIII, 154 = Muller-Dufeu, 2071 = SQ 2167; Properce, III, 7, 12 = Muller-Dufeu, 2831 = SQ 2177). It is hard to say exactly when he lived; maybe ca. 470-400 BC with a period of more intense activity around 450-420 BC (Brunn, 1889, p. 277)
  3. Another solution (to the problem of dating) concerning Mys was advanced by Setti (1973) who proposes that Pausanias could have confused two different people who were both named Mys: the Mys who had worked with Pheidias (ca. 450-430 BC) and another much younger Mys, who is known by an inscription (IGII2 1496, l.218) dated ca. 334/3 BC. The second Mys would have had to use Parrhasius’ drawings after the death of the painter. This scenario would be consistent with Pliny’s writings (texts 290) which attest to the widespread circulation and popularity of Parrhasius’ drawings, even after his death (Setti, 1973, pp. 169-171).
  4. The drawings ("katagraphai") could also be Parrhasius' early work from when he was a teenager (Brunn, 1889, pp. 66-67; Reinach, 1921, pp. 238-239; Richter, 1941, p. 382 n. 55; Bianchi-Bandinelli, 1950, p. 59). See text 289. This text is also listed in Muller-Dufeu, 804 (= SQ 637).
  5. About Euenor, see texts 91 and 257.
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Bibliography

Athenaeus. The Learned Banqueters, Volume V: Books 10.420e-11. 2009, Edited and translated by S. Douglas Olson. Loeb Classical Library 274. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press;

Bianchi-Bandinelli, R. 1950, La Storitcità dell'arte classica, Firenze, 1950;

Brunn, H. 1889, Geschichte der Griechischenkünstler, Stuttgart;

Castriota, D., 1992. Myth, ethos, and actuality: official art in fifth-century B.C., Athens, Madison, Wis: University of Wisconsin Press;

DuBois, P., 1991. Centaurs and amazons: women and the pre-history of the great chain of being, 1st paperback edition, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press;

Gantz, T., 1993. Early Greek myth: a guide to literary and artistic sources, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press;

Lapatin, K. 2015. Luxus : the sumptuous arts of Greece and Rome, Los Angeles : The J. Paul Getty Museum;

Meritt, B. 1936, "Greek Inscriptions", Hesperia, 5. 3,The American Excavations in the Athenian Agora: Tenth Report, pp. 355-430;

Muller-Dufeu, M. 2002, La sculpture grecque. Sources littéraires et épigraphiques, Paris: École Nationale des Beaux Arts;

Page, D.L. 1981, Further Greek Epigrams, Cambridge;

Pausanias. Description of Greece, Volume I: Books 1-2 (Attica and Corinth). Translated by W. H. S. Jones. Loeb Classical Library 93. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1918;

Real-Encyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft (RE), 1924-1925;

Reinach, A. 1921, Textes grecs et latins relatifs à la peinture ancienne, Paris;

Richter, G. 1941, "A Greek silver Phiale in the Metropolitan Museum" American Journal of Archaeology, 45 (3), pp. 363-389;

Setti, S. 1973, "Mys figlio di Hermias. Un toreuta del secolo IV a. C." Studi classici e orientali, 22 , pp. 169-171;

Traill 1994, Persons of Ancient Athens, Toronto;

Woodford, S., 1974. More Light on Old Walls: The Theseus of the Centauromachy in the Theseion. The Journal of Hellenic Studies, 94, pp. 158–165.

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