Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.3.3-1.3.4

στοὰ δὲ ὄπισθεν ᾠκοδόμηται γραφὰς ἔχουσα θεοὺς τοὺς δώδεκα καλουμένους· ἐπὶ δὲ τῷ τοίχῳ τῷ πέραν Θησεύς ἐστι γεγραμμένος καὶ Δημοκρατία τε καὶ Δῆμος. δηλοῖ δὲ ἡ γραφὴ Θησέα εἶναι τὸν καταστήσαντα Ἀθηναίοις ἐξ ἴσου πολιτεύεσθαι· κεχώρηκε δὲ φήμη καὶ ἄλλως ἐς τοὺς πολλούς, ὡς Θησεὺς παραδοίη τὰ πράγματα τῷ δήμῳ καὶ ὡς ἐξ ἐκείνου δημοκρατούμενοι διαμείναιεν, πρὶν ἢ Πεισίστρατος ἐτυράννησεν ἐπαναστάς. λέγεται μὲν δὴ καὶ ἄλλα οὐκ ἀληθῆ παρὰ τοῖς πολλοῖς οἷα ἱστορίας ἀνηκόοις οὖσι καὶ ὁπόσα ἤκουον εὐθὺς ἐκ παίδων ἔν τε χοροῖς καὶ τραγῳδίαις πιστὰ ἡγουμένοις, λέγεται δὲ καὶ ἐς τὸν Θησέα, ὃς αὐτός τε ἐβασίλευσε καὶ ὕστερον Μενεσθέως τελευτήσαντος καὶ ἐς τετάρτην οἱ Θησεῖδαι γενεὰν διέμειναν ἄρχοντες. εἰ δέ μοι γενεαλογεῖν ἤρεσκε, καὶ τοὺς ἀπὸ Μελάνθου βασιλεύσαντας ἐς Κλείδικον τὸν Αἰσιμίδου καὶ τούτους ἂν ἀπηριθμησάμην. ἐνταῦθά ἐστι γεγραμμένον καὶ τὸ περὶ Μαντίνειαν Ἀθηναίων ἔργον, οἳ βοηθήσοντες Λακεδαιμονίοις ἐπέμφθησαν. συνέγραψαν δὲ ἄλλοι τε καὶ Ξενοφῶν τὸν πάντα πόλεμον, κατάληψίν τε τῆς Καδμείας καὶ τὸ πταῖσμα Λακεδαιμονίων τὸ ἐν Λεύκτροις καὶ ὡς ἐς Πελοπόννησον ἐσέβαλον Βοιωτοὶ καὶ τὴν συμμαχίαν Λακεδαιμονίοις τὴν παρʼ Ἀθηναίων ἐλθοῦσαν· ἐν δὲ τῇ γραφῇ τῶν ἱππέων ἐστὶ μάχη, ἐν ᾗ γνωριμώτατοι Γρύλος τε ὁ Ξενοφῶντος ἐν τοῖς Ἀθηναίοις καὶ κατὰ τὴν ἵππον τὴν Βοιωτίαν Ἐπαμινώνδας ὁ Θηβαῖος. ταύτας τὰς γραφὰς Εὐφράνωρ ἔγραψεν Ἀθηναίοις καὶ πλησίον ἐποίησεν ἐν τῷ ναῷ τὸν Ἀπόλλωνα Πατρῷον ἐπίκλησιν· πρὸ δὲ τοῦ νεὼ τὸν μὲν Λεωχάρης, ὃν δὲ καλοῦσιν Ἀλεξίκακον Κάλαμις ἐποίησε. τὸ δὲ ὄνομα τῷ θεῷ γενέσθαι λέγουσιν, ὅτι τὴν λοιμώδη σφίσι νόσον ὁμοῦ τῷ Πελοποννησίων πολέμῳ πιέζουσαν κατὰ μάντευμα ἔπαυσεν ἐκ Δελφῶν.

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Derrière est construit un portique avec des peintures des dieux que l'on appelle les Douze. Sur le mur opposé sont peints Thésée, la Democratie et le Démos. La peinture représente Thésée comme celui qui donna aux Athéniens l'égalité politique. [Autrement dit, il est aussi répandu parmi les hommes que Thésée a accordé la souveraineté au peuple et qu'à partir de ce temps ils continuèrent à excercer un gourvernement démocratique jusqu'à ce que Pisitrate prenne le pouvoir et devienne un tyran. Mais il y a beaucoup de fausses croyances parmi la masse des hommes, puisque ceux-ci sont ignorants des sciences historiques et croient tout ce qu'ils ont entendu depuis leur enfance dans les choeurs et les tragédies; une de celles-ci concerne Thésée qui, en fait devint roi et après cela lorsque Ménésthée mourru, les descendant de Thésée continuèrenet d'être les dirigeant, même après la quatrième génération. Mais si je me soucais de retracer la lignée, j'aurais du inclulre dans la liste, auprès d'eux, les rois depuis Mélanthos jusqu'à Cleidicos le fils d'Aesimides]. Ici il y a une peinture de l'exploit, près de Mantinée, des Athéniens qui furent envoyés pour aider les Lacédémoniens. Xénophon parmi d'autres a écrit une histoire de toute la guerre - La prise de Cadmée, la défaite des Lacédémoniens à Leuctres, comment les Béotiens ont envahi le Péloponnèse, et le secours envoyé par Athènes aux Lacédémoniens. Dans la peinture il y a une bataille de cavalerie, dans laquelle les plus fameux hommes sont, parmi les Athéniens, Grylos le fils de Xénophon, et dans la cavalerie Béotienne, Épaminondas le Thébain. Ces peintures ont été peintes pour les Athéniens par Euphranor.

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Commentary

  1. The stoa of Zeus Eleutherios, built ca. 430-400 BCE, was located on the northwest corner of the Agora in Athens. It was a large building of 43,56 meters in length and 10,73 meters in width. The building had a double colonnade and three walls with two projecting wings (5,86m by 10,6m wide) which were certainly inspired by the design of the Propylaia (see text 121). It was dedicated to Zeus Eleutherios, i.e. "Liberator" (often associated with Zeus Sôter -"Savior") who, as ancient literary sources attest, freed the Athenians from Persian domination (see: Souda s.v. ἐλευθέριος; Etym. Mag. s.v. ἐλευθέριος; Harpocrat. s.v. Ἐλευθέριος Ζεύς; Hesych. s.v. Ἐλευθέριος Ζεύς. On Zeus Eleutherios in Athens: Rosivach, 1987; Raaflaub, 2000; Burkert, 2011, p. 183). In the early Roman period (first century CE) a two-roomed annex was added rear the stoa certainly for religious purpose, in relation to the cult of Zeus Eleutherios associated to the cult of the Emperor. The stoa was destroyed by the Herulians in 267 CE (Thompson, 1937, pp. 72-76; 1966, pp. 180-187; Thompson and Wycherley, 1972, pp. 96-103; Coulton, 1976, pp. 41-42; Travlos, 1980, pp. 527, fig. 665-672; Camp, 1992, pp. 105-107).

  2. Pausanias mentions that the Stoa was decorated by, at least, three paintings, all works of Euphranor (ca. 390-330 B.C), a Greek sculptor, painter and historian of painting (text 351; Palagia, 1980; Vollkommer and Vollkommer-Glökler, 2001, s.v. "Euphranor (I)", pp. 229-230). His paintings depicted The Twelve Gods; Theseus, Demokratia and Demos; and the Battle of Mantineia. It is commonly accepted that these paintings were added later, ca. 362/61 BCE since the Battle of Mantineia which is represented in one of them, took place in 362 BCE. A more recent analysis proposes, however, to date the paintings much later, especially the one of the Battle of Mantineia (see below), namely ca. 340 BCE (Humble, 2008). Nothing is said about the size, the composition, or the location of the paintings inside the stoa. The excavations have revealed that the walls were waterproof and, indeed, prepared to receive paintings (Thompson and Wycherley, 1972, p. 101). It is likely that the paintings were on wooden panels fixed on the wall with iron pins. The arrangement of the paintings inside the stoa depends essentially on how we interpret Pausanias' phrase "ἐπὶ δὲ τῷ τοίχῳ τῷ πέραν" ("On the wall opposite" or "beyond"). Is it the wall opposite the paintings of the “Twelve”? Or the wall opposite the viewer, knowing that Pausanias entered the stoa from the North? Nevertheless, it is commonly held that the “Twelve” were arranged on the back wall, Theseus was on the South wall and the Battle of Mantineia on the North wall (Vasić, 1979; other possibilities: Palagia, 1980, pp. 50-51; Long, 1987, pp. 164-165).

  3. The Twelve Gods (LIMC III s.v. Dodekatheoi 9). The "Twelve" alludes to the canonic group of twelve Greek gods, that is: Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Aphrodite, Athena, Hermes, Hephaestus and, Hestia. It should be also noted that the Stoa of Zeus was on the left of the altar of the Twelve gods in the Agora (Gadbery, 1992. On the Twelve gods: LIMC III s.v. Dodekatheoi, pp. 646-647; Long, 1987, pp. 139-186; Georgoudi, 1996, 1998). Regarding the painting, one can suppose that each god was painted individually on mobile panels hung on the back wall of the stoa, rather than a mural painting, especially considering the remodeling of the back wall of the stoa during the first century CE (Vasić , 1979, pp. 346-347). These paintings were famous (especially Zeus, Poseidon, Hera, and maybe Hephaestus), and numerous ancient author mentioned them (see: texts 54, 351, 355 and 356).

  4. Theseus, Democracy, and Demos (LIMC VII s.v. Theseus 15 = Demokratia 6 = Demos 48). It was a single painting depicting Theseus beside two allegories: Democracy (LIMC III s.v. Demokratia, pp. 372-374) and Demos (Personification of the people. See LIMC III s.v. Demos, pp. 375-382). The painting represents, according to Pausanias, "Theseus as the one who gave to the Athenians political equality" i.e. the democratic system. This painting is difficult to imagine since there is no precedent of that kind of group in the ancient Greek art. Theseus pictured as the founder of the democratic system seems to be an Athenian invention of the last years of the fifth century BCE, found for the first time in Euripides' Suppliant Women. In the 340s BCE, Democracy received a considerable interest in Athens, and a cult of Democracy is known as early as 403 BCE. Likewise, Demos is a personification which appears in the mid fifth century BCE. Usually, Demos is pictured as a middle-aged man, (sometimes) bearded, seated or standing. Demokratia is pictured as a woman, dressed in a long chiton, sometimes holding a crown. The novelty of Euphranor's painting is its political signification. For the first time a clear distinction between Democracy as constitution and Demos as the Athenian government is made (Ruschenbusch, 1958; Raubitschek, 1962; LIMC III s.v. "Demokratia", pp. 372-374, "Demos", pp. 381-382; Walker, 1995, pp. 143-170; Calame, 1996; Humble, 2008, pp. 359-360). Theseus in this painting was often compared to Parrhasios' Theseus who was said to have been "fed with roses", while the one by Euphranor to have been "fed with beef". This comparison refers more to the technique used by the two painters, the colors and the shadowing which Euphranor applied in contrast to the outline drawing of Parrhasios, rather than to the proportions of the figures themselves (see texts 274, 275. Palagia, 1980, pp. 59-60).

  5. The Battle of Mantineia (see also texts 353 and 354). Following Pausanias’ account, it was a picture of a cavalry battle (the earlier and only source which describes the battle in detail is Xenophon, Hellenika 7.5.14-25). This painting generated a lot of discussions and reconstructions, based mainly on literary sources. In fact, Pausanias says practically nothing about the composition of the painting, only that Grylos, the son of Xenophon, and Epaminondas, the leader of the Boetian army, were pictured among the horsemen. In book 9.15.5 Pausanias adds, however, that Grylos was pictured killing Epaminondas. The painting is not historically accurate, since Grylos was already dead at the time of Epaminondas death. But, our knowledge of battle paintings indicates that they were by no means historically accurate; they were rather mythologized versions, aimed to glorify the victorious city. In this case, the representation of a glorified Grylos was principally meant to please Xenophon (Palagia, 1980, pp. 53-54). Regarding its synthesis, the painting was possibly composed around a pair of antithetical horsemen in the center, while the rest of the horsemen were surrounding this central group as for example in the "Mosaic of Alexander" (Naples, Archaeological Museum). According to Plutarch (text 353), the painting was full of action, capturing in an animated way the fury of the battle’s clash (Vasić, 1979b, pp. 348-349, 1979a; Palagia, 1980, pp. 52-54). It is possible that the names of the participants might have been inscribed as in the Stoa Poikile (text 121). Whether the painting contained portraits or not, it is impossible to say. It is commonly admitted that the painting was commissioned by a pro-Spartan faction just after the battle ca. 362/361 BCE. (Robertson, 1975, pp. 434-435; Vasić, 1979b, 1979a; Palagia, 1980, pp. 50-54). More recently, N. Humble has revised its dating and interpretation. The author proposed that the painting was commissioned in the 340s BCE, arguing that the anti-Theban feeling was at its peak at that time. The commissioner would have been Eubulus (ca. 405-330 BCE), who oversaw the public finances and the program of public works in the late 340s BCE (343/42 BCE). He was a close relative of Hagesilaos (the leader of the Greek army in Mantineia) and Xenophon, too (Cawkwell, 1963; Humble, 2008, pp. 363-364). Regarding the meaning of the painting, it would have been a mythologized version of the battle of Mantineia, celebrating the victory of Democracy (embodied by Athenians) over Tyranny (personified by Thebans), a celebration of the freedom of the Athenian demos (Humble, 2008, pp. 359-361).
    According to Pausanias, a copy of the painting was housed inside the Gymnasium in Mantineia (354).

  6. The unity of the decorating program of the Stoa of Zeus, has been questioned often. In fact, at first sight, the three pictorial themes have nothing in common. But, in the light of recent analyses on the paintings, it appears that the decor of the Stoa was very coherent. First, the “Twelve”, are often related to the notions of Justice, Democracy and Harmony. In the specific case of the Stoa of Zeus Eleutherios, the “Twelve” appear as the guarantors of the divinized Democracy, pictured besides Theseus and Demos (Georgoudi, 1998). On the other hand, the painting of the Battle of Mantineia offers a mythologized version of the event, which, as said before, celebrates the victory of Democracy over Tyranny (Humble, 2008, pp. 359-361). Here, the “Twelve” appear as the unifying element that guarantees the Harmony between gods and humans, the rulers and the people (demos), thanks to Democracy. In other words, the “Twelve” validate the legitimacy of the democratic system as guarantor of peace, freedom and harmony, especially since the stoa was dedicated to Zeus Eleutherios ("liberator").

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Tags

  • zeus
  • eleutherios
  • stoa
  • athens
  • agora
  • theseus
  • democracy
  • demos
  • dodekatheion
  • mantineia
  • euphranor
  • parrhasios
  • battle
  • cavalry
  • epaminondas
  • grylos

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Annotation Authors and Editors
Created by Valérie Toillon