Pausanias, Description of Greece, 3.19.4

πεποίηται δὲ ἐπὶ τοῦ βωμοῦ καὶ ἡ Δημήτηρ καὶ Κόρη καὶ Πλούτων, ἐπὶ δὲ αὐτοῖς Μοῖραί τε καὶ Ὧραι, σὺν δέ σφισιν Ἀφροδίτη καὶ Ἀθηνᾶ τε καὶ Ἄρτεμις· κομίζουσι δʼ ἐς οὐρανὸν Ὑάκινθον καὶ Πολύβοιαν, Ὑακίνθου καθὰ λέγουσιν ἀδελφὴν ἀποθανοῦσαν ἔτι παρθένον. τοῦτο μὲν οὖν τοῦ Ὑακίνθου τὸ ἄγαλμα ἔχον ἐστὶν ἤδη γένεια, Νικίας δὲ ὁ Νικομήδους περισσῶς δή τι ἔγραψεν αὐτὸν ὡραῖον, τὸν ἐπὶ Ὑακίνθῳ λεγόμενον Ἀπόλλωνος ἔρωτα ὑποσημαίνων.

Annotation Authors and Editors
Created by Valérie Toillon

Sur l'autel il y a aussi Déméter, Koré, Pluto, à côté d'eux les Moires et les Saisons (horai) et avec elles Aphrodite, Athéna et Artémis. Ils transportent au ciel Hyacinthe et Polyboé, la soeur de Hyacinthe disent-ils, qui mourru jeune fille. Cette statue de Hyacinthe le représente barbu, mais Nikias, le fils de Nicomédès, l'a peint dans la délicatesse de l'adolescence, c'est une indication qu'il a suivit la légende concernant l'amour d'Apollon pour Hyacinthe.

Annotation Authors and Editors
Created by Valérie Toillon

Commentary

  1. On the painter, Nikias see text 362.

  2. This extract is part of a longer description of the throne of Apollo at Amyclae (Paus. 3.18.9-19.5). It is specifically placed at the end of the description of the pedestal of Apollo's cult statue which had the shape of an altar. This altar was thought to be the tomb of Hyacinthus. On the pedestal was carved the apotheosis of Hyacinthus, accompanied by his sister Polybea. He is depicted being welcomed by various gods and goddesses like Heracles (Paus. 3.19.1-4). Here, Pausanias mentions that Hyacinthus had a beard contrary to the painting of Nikias in which he was pictured as a youth (LIMC V s.v. Hyakinthos 1, 36; text 365). In fact, the picture of Hyacinthus on the Amyclean throne is the earliest dated example known to us. Usually, Hyacinthus is pictured as a youth, riding a swan or chased by Zephyros, the west wind (LIMC V s.v. Hyakinthos, pp. 546-550; see for example a red-figure cup in Mississippi University Museum 1977.3.102 - Hyacinthus riding a swan- and a red-figure cup in Boston 95.31 -Hyacinthus and Zephyros). At the time of Pausanias, it was the type of a young Hyacinthus that dominated, linked to his accidental death by the hand of Apollo (see text 27; Martial, 14.173; Philostratus, Images 1.24; Philos. the Young, Images 14). The story of Hyacinthus is best known to us from Ovid (Metamorphoses 10.162-219), although it was already mentioned in a fragment of the Hesiodic Hehoai (Hesiod, Fr. 171 MW). The myth tells that Hyacinthus was loved by Apollo and died accidentally by the fatal blow of a discus thrown by Apollo. In some versions, it is Zephyros who deflects the discus by jealousy (Palaphaitos 46; Lucian, Dialogi Deorum 16). No text mentions the apotheosis of Hyacinthus and his sister, nor any other iconographical representation of this particular scene is known. Maybe the version pictured on the pedestal was linked to the Hyacinthia, a cult to Apollo performed at Amyclea (On literary sources: Gantz, 1993, p. 94; LIMC V. s.v. Hyakinthos, p. 546. On the Hyacinthia: Burkert, 2011, pp. 154 n. 520; 203-204; Pettersson 1992, pp. 9-41).

  3. In Roman times, the painting was displayed in Alexandria, and after Augustus’ capture of the city, the painting was brought to Rome. It was dedicated at the temple of Augustus by Tiberius in ca. 15/16 CE (see Pliny, NH 35. 131 = text 365).

Annotation Authors and Editors
Created by Valérie Toillon

Tags

  • nikias
  • apollo
  • amyclea
  • hyacinthus
  • zephyros

Bibliography

Burkert, W. 2011. La religion grecque : à l’époque archaïque et classique. Antiquité/Synthèses, 13. Paris: Picard.

Gantz, T. 1993. Early Greek Myth: a Guide to Literary and Artistic Sources. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Pettersson, M. 1992. Cults of Apollo at Sparta. The Hyakinthia, the Gymnopaidia and the Karneia. Acta Instituti Atheniensis Regni Sueciae, Series in 8o, XII. Stockholm: Swedish Institute in Athens.

Annotation Authors and Editors
Created by Valérie Toillon