Athenaeus of Naucratis, Deipnosophistae, 11.19

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Now of those who work in relief the following men had a high reputation,—Athenocles, Crates, Stratonicus, Myrmecides the Milesian, Callicrates the Lacedæmonian, and Mys; by which last artist we have seen a Heraclean cup, having most beautifully wrought on it the capture of Troy, and bearing also this epigram — The sketch was by Parrhasius, by Mys the workmanship; and I am the lofty Ilion, which the sons of Aeacus took.

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Comme grands ciseleurs, Athenocles, Crates, Stratonicus, Myrmecides le Milésien, Callicrates le Lacédémonien et Mys; duquel nous avons vu un skyphos d'Héraclée, artistement travaillé, portant ciselé le tableau de la ruine d'Ilion, avec cette épigramme : "Dessin de Parrhasios, ciselure de Mys : je suis l'image de la haute Ilion, que forcèrent les fils d'Éaque."

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

Commentary

  1. Athenokles and Krates were both toreutes of the Hellenistic period, only known from Athenaeus testimony (Muller-Dufeu 2002, p. 953, texts 2822, 2857; Vollkommer & Vollkommer-Glökler 2001, s.v. Athenokles, p. 105; s.v. Krates (II), p. 426). Kallikrates the Lacedemonian and Myrmekides the Athenian were both sculptors and toreutes of the Hellenistic period (the time of the Diadochoi: 323-281 BCE). They were famous for their miniaturist skills (“microtechnia”; Choirobosc. in schol. Dionys. Thrac. = Muller-Dufeu 2848). For example, a chariot pulled by a fly, or a chariot so tiny that a fly's wing can hide it (Muller-Dufeu 2002, pp. 949-951, texts 2846; 2848 to 2855; Vollkommer & Vollkommer-Glökler 2001, s.v. Kallikrates (IV), p 393; 2004, s.v. Myrmekides, p. 96). Stratonikos from Cyzikos was a sculptor and engraver of the second century BCE. He was not, according to Pliny, a great artist. He became famous only due to other artists who were his contemporaries (Pliny, N. H., 34.85; 34.90; 33.156; Muller-Dufeu 2002, p. 715, texts 2032; 2058; 2542 and 2797; Vollkommer & Vollkommer-Glökler 2004, s.v. Stratonikos, p 426). On Mys: see text 288

  2. Generally, a skyphos is a type of drinking vessel with high walls, horizontal handles and a low foot (Boardman 2003, p. 62). The high walls of skyphoi offer a large decorating space which permit the representation of narrative scenes with many characters. Metal vessels became particularly popular in Greece after the Persian wars among the wealthier groups of the population, especially during the first half of the fourth century BCE which include some of the finest pieces of Greek metal work, such as the Derveni krater dated ca. 370 BCE (Vickers & Gill 1994, pp. 37-46; Barr-Sharrar 2008). Moreover, silverware was very popular in Roman time, especially amongst wealthy circles. Those sets of silver vessels often included pairs of skyphoi with similar or complementary decoration, as for example, the skyphoi of the “Boscoreale treasure” (Paris, Musée du Louvre) or the “Hoby cup” (Copenhagen, National Museum). Such objects were carefully decorated, drawing their inspiration from the art of the masters of the fifth century BCE. (Brunn 1889, pp. 269-272; Richter 1941; Baratte 1985; Lapatin 2015, pp. 37-41).

  3. According to Page, the epigram that Athenaeus cites (IG II 1496 1.218) could be dated to either the fifth century BCE or the first century CE. In fact, since at this time many objects were being (incorrectly) attributed to Mys, it is also possible that the skyphos is a second century-CE forgery (Martial, 8.34; Propertius 3.9.14; Page et al. 1981,p. 496). A dating of this epigram later than the fifth century BCE is problematic because it does not match up with a statement attributed to Pausanias (text 288). Pausanias claims that Parrhasios had worked with Mys on the shield of the Athena Promachos (LIMC II s.v. Athena 145 and p.1030). The problem is that, according to ancient testimonies, Parrhasios lived from ca. 430/420 BC to 390/380 BC (see text 257) and so if he had indeed worked with Mys, this would have happened around 430. At this time, Parrhasios would have been a very young man, probably an apprentice. This makes sense since apprenticeship usually involved the preparation of drawings that can be used as reference for toreutics (or other works of art). Drawing and toreutics, which is actually similar to drawing in technique, was at the time part of a free man’s education. Therefore, it would not be surprising if Parrhasios worked for a toreute during his apprenticeship (Pliny, NH, XXXV, 77; Brunn 1889, p. 277; Bianchi Bandinelli 1950, p. 59; Richter 1941, pp. 375-380, esp. n. 55 on p. 382; Vickers & Gill 1994, pp. 100, 158).

  4. “The sons of Aeacus” is a reference to Achilles and Ajax, heroes of the Iliad. It refers to the "Ilioupersis" (Fall of Troy), which was a very popular theme in ancient art, in painting as well as in minor arts (text 62; LIMC VIII s.v. Ilioupersis, pp. 650-657; Castriota 1992, pp. 97-100; Anderson 1997, pp. 247-255; Mangold 2005) . A famous depiction of this mythological event was a painting by Polygnotos of Thasos in the Lesche of the Cnidians at Delphi (text 107a).

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

Bibliography

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

Anderson, M.J., 1997. The Fall of Troy in Early Greek Poetry and Art, Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.

Barr-Sharrar, B., 2008. The Derveni Krater: Masterpiece of Classical Greek Metalwork, American School of Classical Studies at Athens.

Bianchi Bandinelli, R., 1950. La Storitcità dell’arte classica, Firenze: Electra editrice.

Boardman, J., 2003. Athenian Black-Figure Vases, London: Thames & Hudson.

Brunn, H. von, 1889. Geschichte der griechischen Künstler (Band 2): Die Maler. Die Architekten. Die Toreuten. Die Münzstempelschneider. Die Gemmenschneider. Die Vasenmaler, Stuttgart. Available here

Castriota, D., 1992. Myth, Ethos, and Actuality: Official Art in Fifth-century B.C. Athens, Madison, Wis: University of Wisconsin Press.

Lapatin, K.D.S., 2015. Luxus: the Sumptuous Arts of Greece and Rome, Los Angeles: The John Paul Getty Museum.

Mangold, M., 2005. Guide d’imagerie antique: la chute de Troie sur les vases attiques, Gollion: Infolio.

Muller-Dufeu, M., 2002. La sculpture grecque: sources littéraires et épigraphiques, Paris: École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts.

Page, D.L., R. D Dawe and J. Diggle, 1981. Further Greek Epigrams: Epigrams before A.D. 50 from the Greek Anthology and other Sources, not Included in “Hellenistic epigrams” or “The garland of Philip,” Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge University Press.

Richter, G.M.A., 1941. A Greek Silver Phiale in the Metropolitan Museum. American Journal of Archaeology, 45(3), pp. 363–389.

Vollkommer, R. & Vollkommer-Glökler, D., 2001. Künstlerlexikon der Antike, München: Saur.

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