Pausanias, Description of Greece, 9.35.6-9.35.7

ὅστις δὲ ἦν ἀνθρώπων ὁ γυμνὰς πρῶτος Χάριτας ἤτοι πλάσας ἢ γραφῇ μιμησάμενος, οὐχ οἷόν τε ἐγένετο πυθέσθαι με, ἐπεὶ τά γε ἀρχαιότερα ἐχούσας ἐσθῆτα οἵ τε πλάσται καὶ κατὰ ταὐτὰ ἐποίουν οἱ ζωγράφοι· καὶ Σμυρναίοις τοῦτο μὲν ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ τῶν Νεμέσεων ὑπὲρ τῶν ἀγαλμάτων χρυσοῦ Χάριτες ἀνάκεινται, τέχνη Βουπάλου, τοῦτο δέ σφισιν ἐν τῷ Ὠιδείῳ Χάριτός ἐστιν εἰκών, Ἀπελλοῦ γραφή, Περγαμηνοῖς δὲ ὡσαύτως ἐν τῷ Ἀττάλου θαλάμῳ, Βουπάλου καὶ αὗται· καὶ πρὸς τῷ ὀνομαζομένῳ Πυθίῳ Χάριτες καὶ ἐνταῦθά εἰσι Πυθαγόρου γράψαντος Παρίου· Σωκράτης τε ὁ Σωφρονίσκου πρὸ τῆς ἐς τὴν ἀκρόπολιν ἐσόδου Χαρίτων εἰργάσατο ἀγάλματα Ἀθηναίοις. καὶ ταῦτα μέν ἐστιν ὁμοίως ἅπαντα ἐν ἐσθῆτι, οἱ δὲ ὕστερον— οὐκ οἶδα ἐφʼ ὅτῳ—μεταβεβλήκασι τὸ σχῆμα αὐταῖς· Χάριτας γοῦν οἱ κατʼ ἐμὲ ἔπλασσόν τε καὶ ἔγραφον γυμνάς.

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Qui le premier représenta les Charites nues, que ce soit en sculpture ou en peinture, je n'ai pas pu le découvrir. Dans les temps archaïques, il est sûr que les sculpteurs comme les peintres les représentaient drapées. À Smyrne, par exemple, dans le sanctuaire de Némésis, au-dessus des statues de culte, sont consacrées des Charites en or, oeuvre de Boupalos. [Et dans l'Odéon de la même ville, il y a un portrait d'une Charite, peint par Apelles]. De même, à Pergame, dans la chambre d'Attale, il y a d'autres images des Charites faites par Boupalos. Et tout proche, dans ce qu'on appelle le Pythion, il y a des Charites, peintes par Pythagoras le Parien.

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Created by Valérie Toillon

Commentary

  1. Pausanias is by far the most important source concerning the cult of the Charites (or Graces in Roman times). To be more precise, in book 9 chapter 35, Pausanias retraces the history of the cult based on his personal knowledge on this matter, noticing the differences between the Athenian and Boeotian cult of the Charites. The two last paragraphs (6 and 7) concern the representation of the Charites in art and, in particular, the moment when painters decided to picture them naked. Indeed, in Roman times, the Charites are always three, dancing in a circle and pictured naked as, for example, on a painting in the house of Titus Dentatus Panthera in Pompei (65-79 CE). But as Pausanias notes, this has not always been the case. In fact, the nude type of the Charites first appears during the Hellenistic times and becomes very popular in Roman times. On the contrary, during the archaic Greek art, Charites were painted fully dressed, wearing a long chiton or peplos, often reunited under the same cloak to underline their intimate bond (they are sisters) as, for example, on a dinos by Sophilos in the British Museum - ca. 580-570 BCE- (LIMC III s.v. Charites, pp. 191-203; esp. Charites 14).

  2. In mythology, the Charites are the three daughters of Zeus and Eurynome, a daughter of Okeanos (Hes. Theog. 906-911). Their names are Aglaea, Euphrosyne, and Thalia. But usually, they formed a triad and are called Charites in the plural with no other indication. In Hellenistic times, the Charites impersonate the aesthetic and ethical values of the Greek city (that is charm, favor or gratitude). However, in archaic and classical times the cult to the Charites was more related to local cults. As a result, they were honored since very early on, especially in Boeotia and Athens where the cult was celebrated since, at least, the archaic times (LIMC III s.v. Charites, pp. 191-193; Rocchi 1979; Rocchi 1980, pp. 19-23; Gantz 1993; Pirenne-Delforge 1996).

  3. Bupalos was a sculptor of the years 550-500 BCE. Pliny (Natural History, 36.11) places him into the 60th Olympiad, i.e. ca. 532 BCE. Bupalos was born on the island of Chios, in eastern Greece, off the western coast of Asia Minor (modern Turkey). He was a contemporary of the iambic poet Hipponax -middle fifth century BCE- (Muller-Dufeu 2002, pp. 123-127). Bupalos was known to have made, together with his brother Athenis, a portrait of Hipponax to mock the ugliness of the poet (see: Souda s.v. Hipponax; Acron scholion to Horace, Epod. VI.13). Bupalos made a gold sculpture of the Charites which was displayed in the temple of Nemesis in Smyrna. He made another sculpture of the Charites which was exposed in "the chamber (thalamos) of Attalus" in Pergamon.

  4. Pausanias mention also a portrait of a Charite by Apelles (fourth century BCE. See text 449).

  5. Following Pausanias, Pythagoras of Paros was a painter of the fifth century BCE. According to A. Reinach, Pausanias made a mistake and confused this Pythagoras with another Pythagoras: Pythagoras of Samos, a painter, and homonym of Pythagoras of Samos, a fifth-century bronze sculptor, famous for his statues of athletes and mythological groups (Reinach et al. 1921, pp. 74-75; Muller-Dufeu 2002, p. 233). This painter, Pythagoras of Samos, is mentioned by Pliny (Natural History, 34.60. See text 77), who says he was a sculptor, too. In addition, Diogenes Laertius claims that there were four Pythagoras, born at the same time (Diog. Laert. 8.46), among them Pythagoras of Samos, a sculptor, and Pythagoras of Rhegion, also a sculptor. Recent studies have shown that Pythagoras of Samos and Pythagoras of Rhegion, mentioned in ancient testimonies, are one and the same person (Linfert 1966; Muller-Dufeu 2002, pp. 233-239). It is possible, though, that this famous sculptor began his apprenticeship as a painter (see text 77; Muller-Dufeu 2011, pp. 169-173). Moreover, it is not the first time that Pausanias mentioned a painter known to us only from his account (see for example texts 76a, 107a, 123). It does not mean that Pausanias was wrong. In this case, it is likely that Pliny made a mistake (see commentary on text 77). Therefore, it can be said with certainty that Pythagoras of Paros was a late archaic painter (early fifth century BCE? See Vollkommer & Vollkommer-Glökler 2001, p. 334) who painted Charites wearing long chiton and himation, as, for example, on a red-figure cup in Berlin depicting the apotheosis of Heracles. On Pythagoras' painting, perhaps, the Charites were holding hands as it is usual on late archaic and classical works of arts (see for example the marble relief, Athens Acropolis Museum 702 and LIMC III, s.v. Charites 19-38). The painting was on display in the “Pythion”, the temple of Apollo at Pergamon, possibly an early classical building (Conze 1913; Kohl 2008, pp. 160-163). In the text, "Pythion" might indicate both the temple and the cult statue, which is usual for Pausanias when he talks about sculptures of divinities. In fact, Pausanias often designate cult statues by their epiclesis (nickname), in this case, "Pythion" for Apollo (Pirenne-Delforge 2004, p. 814). "Pythion" recalls, at the same time, the oracular functions of Apollo.

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Tags

  • pythagoras
  • charites
  • boupalos

Bibliography

Conze, A., 1913. Altertümer von Pergamon (Band I, Text 2): Stadt und Landschaft (Berlin, 1913), Berlin. Available at: http://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/diglit/pergamon1913/0013?sid=e3e8d5f06dc0764513deb9cc9a3e155b

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

Kohl, M., 2008. La Pergame d’Apollon depuis les temps de l’Iliade homérique à l’époque hellénistique. In M. Kohl, ed. Pergame. Histoire et archéologie d’un centre urbain depuis ses origines jusqu’à la fin de l’Antiquité. Halma, XXIIIe colloque international, 8-9 décembre 2000. Lille, Université Charles de Gaulle-Lille III, pp. 147–169.

Linfert, A., 1966. Pythagoras, einer oder zwei ? Archäologischer Anzeiger / Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, pp.495–496.

Muller-Dufeu, M., 2011. Créer du vivant: sculpteurs et artistes dans l’antiquité grecque, Villeneuve-d’Ascq: Presses universitaires du septentrion.

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

Pirenne-Delforge, V., 2004. Image des dieux et rituel dans le discours de Pausanias : de l’« axiologie » à la théologie. Mélanges de l’École Française de Rome. Antiquité, 116. Available at: http://orbi.ulg.ac.be/handle/2268/18381.

Pirenne-Delforge, V., 1996. Les Charites à Athènes et dans l’île de Cos. Kernos. Revue internationale et pluridisciplinaire de religion grecque antique, (9). Available at: http://kernos.revues.org/1167.

Reinach, A., Reinach, S. & Milliet, P., 1921. Textes grecs et latins relatifs à l’histoire de la peinture ancienne, Paris: Klincksieck.

Rocchi, M., 1980. Contributi allo culto delle Charites, II. Studii Clasice, XIX, pp. 19–28.

Rocchi, M., 1979. Contributi allo studio delle Charites, I. Studii Clasice, XVIII, pp. 5–16.

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

Annotation Authors and Editors
Created by Valérie Toillon