greek personality in archaic sculpture () || vi. ionian sculpture in the sixth century

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  • VI. IONIAN SCULPTURE IN T H E SIXTH CENTURY

    TH E stimulating influence which monumental ori-ental art exercised upon early archaic sculpture in Greece would naturally have been felt first in those Eastern Ionian regions which bordered on the un-Hellenic realms of Asia Minor and were connected both with Syria and Egypt by long-established com-mercial intercourse. Yet the archaeological evidence does not bear this out. There is as little trace of Earliest Archaic as of Daedalid large-scale sculpture in the ruins of the wealthy Ionian cities and sanctuaries on the Micrasiatic mainland, the great islands border-ing it, and the Aeolian regions farther to the North. Small pieces of a younger cousin of the "Nikandre" (above, p. 94) have come to light in the Samian He-raeum. But this is an exception which proves the rule, besides being probably a Naxian offering, like the "Nikandre" herself. Of course we still know far too little about several centres of Eastern Ionian and Aeol-ian art, like Clazomenae and Phocaea, Chios and Lesbos. But it seems incredible that not a single large plastic work earlier than 600 B.C. should have turned up, either in excavations or as a stray find, if such stat-ues had been in use in Eastern Greece, as they undoubt-edly were in the Cyclades. It thus seemed logical to begin our survey with these central Aegean islands.

    1. The Cyclades

    Of all the Cyclades, Naxos evidently was foremost in the production of marble, ever since the first half of the seventh century. The evidence of a long line

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  • 8 of statues, dedicated at Delos, and ranging from the "Nikandre" to developed archaism, is borne out by extensive marble quarries of ancient date on the North-ern coast of the island. That they were worked very early is proved by two blocked out kouroi twice life size and an enormous, roughly trimmed block, more than thirty feet long, which seems to be intended for a bearded draped statue. Stanley Casson has recently studied it.1 In size it exceeded even the Delian colos-sus to be discussed below. Quite a number of early archaic statues from various island and mainland sites are apparently of Naxian marblethough there is rea-son to be prudent in such assignments, since several other Cyclades are rich in marble. However, the Nax-ian variety is fairly characterized by its large crystals, while Parian for instance has a finer grain. From the later sixth century it was justly preferred to Naxian and prized more than any other kind. But between about 650 and 550 B.C. Naxos appears to have held the field, and a local school of sculpture developed and flourished in consequence.2

    At least one signed and datable work of this school has escaped the wholesale destruction of the Delian sanctuary : a triangular base with the heads of a ram and a lion and a Gorgoneion in high relief at the cor-ners. Both the general shape and the plastic decora-tion are unique among the numerous archaic bases known to us.8 A hexagonal depression on top of the block contains a plinth with remains of two feet; evi-dently a large kouros stood on this base, whose lower part is only roughly blocked out and must have been covered by the ground : a very welcome proof that the statue was only very slightly raised above the level of

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  • 182 GREEK PERSONALITY the sanctuary. W e will find the same practice at Samos (pp. 199. 203) ; standing, seated or recumbent figures in marble seemed to mingle with the visitors who thronged the sanctuaries. T h e effect must have been singularly like Rodin's Bourgeois de Calais in the market place of the town.

    T h e Delian base is inscribed in early letters, point-ing like the style of the corner heads to the very begin-ning of the sixth century: "Euthykartides dedicated me the Naxian, having made (me) . " Evidently the sculptor, who is not otherwise known to us, devoted special pains to a work which would proclaim his origi-nality to the innumerable potential customers that con-gregated at Delos f rom all parts of Ionian Greece. Such a base with its unique and rich decoration would attract everybody's attention. Perhaps the kouros which it carried likewise had unusual traits. I t is sug-gestive to find the taste for lavish ornament, so char-acteristic of later Ionian sculpture, at such an early stage.

    Remains of two earlier kouroi in Delos are assigned to the time of "Nikandre" and to the third quarter of the seventh century by Gisela Richter, to whom we owe the latest and best summary of the problems involved.4

    Euthykartides could thus draw on half a century of artistic tradition. His statue apparently did not ex-ceed life size. Another Naxian kouros at Delos, dis-tinguished by a broad belt, must have been consider-ably larger.5

    But all these are dwarfed by the huge marble Apollo which the Naxians set up at Delos at this time. Plu-tarch states that it was knocked down when a bronze palm tree dedicated by Nicias fell. I t was evidently

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  • IN ARCHAIC SCULPTURE, CH. VI 183 re-erected and remained standing to the end of an-tiquity. While the Italian traveller Bondelmonte (about A.D. 1420 ) found the statue prostrate but suf-ficiently well preserved for an (unsuccessful) attempt to set it up again, it had already been smashed into sev-eral pieces by 1655, and the head disappeared soon afterwards. Today only the torso, parts of the left hand and foot and the base survive. T h e latter is very large but low: 3. 47 5.15 0.70 m. I t must have stood on a foundation, the visible part of which hardly exceeded two or three feet in height, though what re-mains is too incomplete to admit of accurate measure* ments. T h e plinth which fitted into a deep depres-sion on the upper surface of the base is only 0.64 m. high. Thus the statue, which was about four times life-size, towered above those who stood before it from a comparatively very low substructure. Its knees would be about twelve feet or more above the sanctuary's level. T h e colossal figure of the god contrasted im-pressively with the other kouroi which seemed to min-gle with the votaries around them.

    Just enough is left of this most ambitious Naxian achievement to show that Apollo was represented as a normal kouros, except for some bronze accoutre-ments of which only rivet holes remain: four long locks of hair on each side of the chest and a broad belt round the waist. The clenched left hand is pierced, evidently for a bronze bow, the right is lost. The statue was made of a single block. An inscription on the base reads: " I am of the same stone, statue and base." But this cannot mean that enough marble was left over for the base, since its breadth is nearly double that of the statue, and such a senseless squandering of

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  • 184 GREEK PERSONALITY precious material would be incredible. Evidently the text merely stresses the unusual fact that such a huge base was of marble, not limestone.

    Enough is preserved of the body to show that its proportions were less heavy, the trunk more slender than those of the Argive Twins in Delphi (above, p. 106). I t is rather with Attic kouroi of the same pe-riod that the Naxian Apollo should be compared (be-low, pp. 250 ff. ) . The same appears to be true for two or more colossal marble kouroi, of which fragments were found in 1931 on Thera (Santorin), not far f rom the ancient city.7 The volcanic island possesses neither marble nor any other stone fitted for sculpture, so that no plastic school could have arisen there. The statues just mentioned must be imported, probably from one of the Cyclades. But neither adequate illustrations nor reports on the quality of the marble are as yet available to solve the question.

    Next to the great Apollo, the most ambitious con-tribution of Naxos to Early Archaic sculpture is a series of colossal lions which stood on the bank of a sacred lake West of the sanctuary of Apollo at Delos.8 Six have been replaced upon their bases by the French excavators, several are lost, one was carried off to Venice in the seventeenth century and placed in front of the Arsenal gate there. T h e row of magnificent brutes is extremely impressive and at once recalls simi-lar "avenues" of lions or sphinxes in Egyptian sanctu-aries. Evidently these gave the Naxians the general idea of their grandiose offering to Apollo. But the lions themselves are as un-Egyptian, as purely Hel-lenic as possible. They are also quite different, both from the Dorian lions we have discussed (p. 126) and

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  • IN ARCHAIC SCULPTURE, CH. VI 185 the Eastern Ionian types of Samos and Miletus (p. 213). The long, slender, high-legged bodies and the small heads with wide-open maws are hardly feline. They closely resemble great hounds. And such were evidently the models of Naxian sculptors who not only had never seen a lion themselves, but ap-parently lacked the oriental prototypes which had plentifully reached the great commercial and artistic centres of Mainland Greece. Moreover, an original conception contrasting with Dorian art governs the lions of Delos: they sit back on their haunches, the rigidly straight forelegs supporting neck and head. The outlines of the back and belly are almost parallel and only very slightly curved. The result is an almost Romanesque heraldic immobil